So like, why can't we just buy anything anymore? It used to be just a few things that you expected to pay for over a lifetime - your house, school loans, and in some very troubling cases, medical bills.
Nowadays, it seems there are countless products and services that companies have us on the hook for... FOREVER! You have your Netflix, Spotify, New York Times, Amazon Prime... I can even join a club now for my razors. How do they know how much I shave or how much facial hair I have? Is it really that less convenient to just pick up some razors when I'm out doing my groceries and I need some? How many more things will I be taking off my grocery list thanks to subscription based businesses? Actually, come to think of it with Blue Apron I don't even have to put food on my grocery list anymore. Is there a monthly toilet paper subscription box service I can join? Something that offers up hand-woven, eco-friendly, hipster tp from featured tp craftsmen around the globe?
Personally, what's upsetting for me and many in my industry is that we can't even buy software anymore. A few years ago Adobe moved to a monthly, subscription-based business model. There are just a handful of video editing and motion graphics software out there but Adobe is the most widely used. Just think about how common Photoshop has become, not just for designers and editors but for everyday folks who take pictures. It's about as common as Microsoft Word or PowerPoint (which you also can no longer buy either). This is a problem because we are essentially being forced to rent something we used to be able to buy and use for as long as we wanted. What if the entire car industry suddenly decided that they wouldn't sell cars any longer but only lease them?
Principal aside, if we are perpetually paying for a product, what are we receiving in return? What is the benefit to the consumer? Can we expect the same level of innovation to the product? In the past, new products, new software meant new features. And they had to be big innovations. Otherwise, how could they convince customers to give up on the old product which may have been working perfectly fine for their needs, and buy the shiny, new product. This may be a bit cynical but if a business is guaranteed a steady stream of revenue, is there as much of an incentive or pressure to continue to innovate?
It's hard to peg Adobe as a company that remains complacent. They seem to embody innovation. When Apple unceremoniously exited the film and tv post-production market, Adobe picked up where Apple left off. They issued a piece of software that built upon what Apple had done with their revolutionary Final Cut Pro and Adobe continued to innovate and improve with input and feedback from consumers.
Then they decided to forever rent their software. And they also decided that the updates and new versions of the software they publicly released could be as buggy as necessary. Yes, it seems that there are constant issues with each release and as a result we have seen an increase in the number and frequency of updates. Is this some kind of psychological ploy? Does the mindset become, "They fixed the problems in the previous version. They are providing us with better and better products. They are innovating!" I don't think if we were still purchasing software that this would be acceptable.
So what is the solution? What questions do we need to consider moving forward? What is the future of business? Will everything in the consumer market eventually move to some recurring payment type of model? Is this something we've just come to accept like long security lines at the airport? How and when will the pendulum swing back the other way? What's the point of this post even? I don't think there is one. I think it's just a rant. And how do you end those? </rant>
Sorry, I'm back. That seemed like an incredibly unsatisfying ending. I'm going to shift this post from software to society. The trend in business is to transition or transform to some kind of recurring payment model. It seems fine when there is competition and you have options. Many people have "cut the cord" because there are numerous streaming video options now available and we realized we don't need or want 1000 channels, thank you very much, cable tv. It seems many are starting to realize we don't need a lot of stuff period. There is a growing minimalist movement. People are finding they are perfectly happy with less. Tiny homes are charming, getting back to nature is alluring, and doing things by hand has become trendy (perhaps soon the norm?) That's pretty much why Pinterest exists. Youtube is the online video manual for everything. My parents and grandparents would buy something and when it broke, they fixed it.. and fixed it.. and patched it up until it was more patch than product. Then and only then would they consider buying a new one. I hope we do see a shift towards less consumerism (thank you very much, Tyler Durden). We have too much stuff. We create too much waste. And I don't need a society where my daily cup of coffee is acquired through some kind of club and my socks and underwear come with a service agreement. Ok, now </rant>