Tech-Rentals: The Change and Future of Technology Renting
Technology Renting: What it‘s all about
In today’s digital climate, it’s becoming rarer and rarer to see houses around the world without digital and smart technology. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that our entertainment and media platforms are also taking the initiative to move digitally too. From music to books, we’re bringing technology into the home faster now than television ever was, and it’s no wonder because you can have new content at your fingertips now, at the speed of the original release date, instead of going out and buying it when you get the chance. The future’s here, and the industry is showing it. In this article, we’ll explore how we got to this point, how we’ve seen the industries evolve, and what the future brings in this high-speed environment, where anything can happen.
The Turning Point
To understand where we are now, we need to take the story back to 1999, when two businessmen, Ted Sarantos and Reed Hastings (the founder of Netflix), met together and decided to talk about a start-up online video-rental service. Bear in mind, Blockbuster was at its peak at this point and saw no signs of slowing down yet. The vision Hasting’s desired was a platform that gave it’s content to subscribers via the internet. Netflix at this point made their money through mailing DVD’s to their customers, so this was a very new realm of possibility. ‘We never spent one minute trying to save the DVD business’, Sarandos says, and this is the difference between Netflix and Blockbuster, and perhaps the most confounding one. It seems to us now that Blockbuster was just swept off the map, but Netflix’s choice to follow headstrong into a new pathway, instead of revering what they already had, benefitted them hugely, now the biggest streaming platform on earth, and certainly one of the biggest names in home cinema and television. It still holds onto its old business too, delivering it’s red envelopes to about 3 million DVD subscribers, getting the best of both worlds. ‘Back then, (Hastings said), postage rates were going to keep going up and the internet was going to get twice as fast at half the price, every 18 months.’ This mindset held strong, and as it became, and still becomes, more expensive to use external and physical media, it becomes ever cheaper to have internet. This transformed the landscape of media, and it’s included here first to help us understand just where it all changed.
Foot in the Door
The Netflix boom took a while to get started, but with their foot firmly in the door, they’ve been able to grow near exponentially, with their net worth now superseding $194 billion dollars and steadily climbing, $50 billion being gained just this year. It shows no signs of slowing down just yet, with this eye-watering number now over-taking the 96-year-old mega-giant, Disney. While Amazon trailed many years after, and multiple other streaming services the following suit, it was a case of first-come-first-serve with the success of the platform, not unlike many brand successes in the real world. If you see a brand name, you know it works, which is definitely the mind-set in the streaming world. Netflix often secures the first rights to a shows digital marketing, with the others creating exclusives just to keep in the picture.
This IS changing though. Amazon, now the largest company on earth, are showing their strength, filming award-winning shows straight-to-streaming. Their huge strength, and their promise of next-day delivery on physical products, a music service, a revolutionary book-service (which we’ll talk more about’, and more services all under the umbrella of a cost-effective subscription, the promises, and evolutions that Amazon takes in the current climate make them the best (and most seemingly-trustworthy) company to back. Disney, in the past few years, have been culling their content from Netflix, one of the reasons people stayed for so long and made their own service. For a similar price-point, many time-long fans of Disney content also left the platform, and the company benefitted from the loyalty of their fan-base, creating a platform of their own and instantly becoming a reasonable contender. In the fast world of internet entertainment, it pays to be just as fast and headstrong to get results.
On the back of this, we should evaluate what the market has done in the replication of book-streaming, as it’s again capitalized by Amazon. Amazon, back in the ’90s, was just this, an online book store that mailed its customers reads through the post. Along with their success, they cornered the book market on the web by selling a cheaper tablet-alternative, the Kindle. Although you can get your hands on the Kindle app at any time, Amazon knew the book-readers experience with physicality. The second most reasonable choice to, well, buying a book, is buying a tablet with all of your books on it, trying to simulate the book-feel with matte screens. This was more successful back when it launched than it would be now, but at the time it saw a huge benefit, and the affordable pricing was the main reason. Bang for buck is the stakes in the game of developing new products, and it really shows with all of these streaming platforms, and what they have to offer.
The Sound of Music
Again, to understand the reinvention of the way we listen to music, we have to go back to the dawn of the internet, the late 90’s and the 00’s, and the revolution that took place. While the internet was still in its early life, many programmers took to making servers to hold music, and share content. This, at the time, was unregulated, without the sponsorship of producing companies (the biggest being Warner Music Group, and still is). This, therefore, was piracy but was so big that the tidal wave couldn’t be stopped for over a decade, with litigations and lawsuits coming thick and fast. For a decade though, teens around the world got music onto their phones without restriction, which created the atmosphere for need-now content.
The second-biggest company on earth, Apple, trailed in its benefits. They have seen huge success in the ’90s and ’00s with the development of ‘iPod’, and supplied millions already with their music technology. They helped their public get songs onto their devices through CD-ripping and, later, internet purchases, simulating illegal sites with complete legality, making them a huge name from the very start. Their clean-cut device aesthetic made them a favorite, and on the release of the ‘iPhone’, in 2007, Steve Jobs claimed ‘We’re 5 years ahead of everyone else’. This couldn’t be more correct, and while huge companies scrambled to makeMP3 players enter the Music market, they couldn’t catch up to Apple and their headstrong venture. This IS another case of foot-in-the-door, like Apple iTunes and, later, Apple Music, created the infrastructure for music streaming, and we’re now revering its profits because of the hard work and early mindset they had. Because of their speed, Apple had a full-stakes hold in the market, and even their earliest contender, Microsoft, couldn’t create anything like it, nor could they get the rights to most music placed on the market.
Nowadays, the rights can be sold to multiple companies, and the market has changed. The biggest music streaming-site of today’s age, Spotify, didn’t attempt the same locale as Apple when it comes to music. Where Apple sold its music by each album (usually at retail or just under-retail prices), Spotify tried to replicate the success of subscription-based streaming loyalties. In doing so, they created success instantly. The promise of a huge library at your fingertips, for an eye-watering slow portion of the cost, made their service a no-brainer for casual listeners and hardcore fans. The future for them (or right now, the present) is wholly in subscriptions, and they’ve thrived from developing a sturdy and daring new platform which just works.
Want it All, Want it Now
With the climate of technology on the rise and the all-access pass that companies give us (with our coin, mind), the public have become very cozy with the idea of getting what they want, at the earliest available opportunity. It would have been unheard of even 10 years ago, the market is making it’s way faster into the realm of connecting our bank accounts, and never thinking more on it. Let’s paint a picture. Imagine you’re in a new country, and you don’t have your own car with you. You could quickly rent a car, and not have to think about it. Easy. Well now think of life 10-15 years ago, where many people bought their devices outright, like phones for the retail price and their DVD’s physically. With the internet pushing the speed of development faster, and the world creating smarter devices, it would have been more expensive just to keep up. Telecom’s companies worked their way around this, firstly with the installment payments of technological devices, where you would pay monthly at a small interest. Now, 95% of the public owns a mobile phone, and an awful lot of them are the ever-growing smartphone market, thanks to the accessibility of cost-flexibility. Many companies even let you switch your phone before you’ve paid the right to own the old one. The market accepts that the public wants things as soon as possible, and helps us do so. With the seamless link to all of your accounts to streaming services at your hands, the only thing needing to be physical is your phone.
The reason we bring you into the realm of physical objects is to help understand what the world could be like in the future. If it’s anything like the past 10 years, who knows what will happen, while we’re on the verge of accessible virtual-realities, being developed by the games industry and the home industry (pioneered by the likes of Facebook’s acquired Oculus, no less). The technology industry is speeding up, not slowing down. If our only limit is the accessibility to physical hardware, what do we do into the future? Well, the question answers itself, make technology on-demand too, not unlike a rent-a-car like we previously discussed.
Apple‘s Hardware Renting Rumours
Apart from what to expect from Apple in 2020 and beyond, there are rumors of Apple developing a rent-based service for their devices. Still having a hold in the market, capitalizing on their non-compromise tech (at 45% of all phones), Apple have always pushed the boat out for what technology should be, and it seems that every company in contention with them follow their lead (remember the aux cord). With a mindset for creating history, rather than being the trend follower, what they say, goes. Even if there were no rumors, they would be expected to be the first on technology-renting services at a subscription base. With consistent releases, the people who pay a subscription, or one-time rent, can get hardware to their door while trading for their old kit. It seems crazy and revolutionary, and difficult to implement, by the sounds of things. This is expensive stuff, after all, so who knows how it will work. The main thing to remember though is that it SHOULD work if we look at where we stand now. We’ve seen leaps and bounds in this direction so far.
What else can we see in the future? Well, we can’t really say. The music industry is thriving, not only in CD sales and subscriptions, but artists are now starting to sell cassettes, and Vinyl, like never before. These are more collector’s items than anything, but they’ve helped to keep the industry more successful than ever before. The pop-rock of the television age is not the only boundary, and there’s music out there for practically everyone.
Outlook on Amazon & Co.
Amazon has been a pioneer in every setting, whether books, music, video, physical sales in the mail, and even Amazon food services (not unlike a supermarket delivery). In the future, it seems that there is nothing stopping them. The company makes so much money, that in the wake of 2020’s financial shift, they were making about $10,000 every second. For this reason, they can just about develop anything they want! The biggest rumor of the past 5 years is drone delivery, cutting the promised 1-day delivery into less than half a day. With air-space laws and the wait of 1 day being reasonable in itself, it’s been a slow process, but who knows what the future will offer.
In this tech-space though, we’ve seen that loyalty has become a huge sales technique in commerce, with many buyers of technology will stick with a single brand, such has been the case in the last 5 years or so. If it works, it works, and many people are growing accustomed to Apple or Android OS, Spotify, Amazon, or Apple Music, and Microsoft or Apple computers. While there are some mix-matchers, most people know what they love, and love what they already know. In the next 10 years, it’s predicted to stay the same. After all, why try something new when there are new things happening all around us with what we already love. The bigger companies do get bigger, which sometimes seems like a bad thing, but it’s gotten us cheaper and greater hardware and software so far.
A Philosophical Outlook
To conclude, what can we say about the tech world where we stand right now. Well, the public in the past few years, it seems, have had a greater affinity than ever before to getting things at their fingertips, and liking it more than physical things. In the wake of the 2020 epidemic, people were challenged to stay indoors, and they’ve made the companies they rely on (or just transferred to) more money than ever imagined. While most companies suffered under the strain of reduced sales, the big-boys laughed and grew exponentially. This isn’t necessarily bad, as the money they make gets pushed into new ventures which revolutionize the world we see. It also forced us to learn the ways of tech, many older people buying smart-technology for the first time, and a huge majority of the population buying online products more than ever before, with Amazon at its center.
In the future, the change will come about thick and fast. The top companies will be pushing in every direction to try to find new ways that stick, but as the consumer, all we can, and should do, is sit back and relax, and wait for the change to come to us to benefit from. It’s a brave new world, and we should enjoy it!