For better or worse, as time goes on we’re going to own fewer and fewer items, and lease them instead. Gizmodo recently published an article titled “In 2030, You Won’t Own Any Gadgets“, and I tend to agree with most of it.
At first blush, this is a bad thing. Don’t we want to own our stuff? Not always. I think music is a great place to start.
While owning CDs / cassette tapes / vinyl records is a neat thing, most of us keep all those in the back of a closet somewhere, because we much prefer Spotify or YouTube Music. It’s rather inexpensive, and gives us access to essentially everything. There’s certainly some lost nostalgia in not going to the mall to pick up a new CD, but from a practical point of view I think we’re almost all happy with the move to streaming services.
The music analogy is interesting, because I see the same thing happening with video games and Google Stadia. The main criticism again Stadia is that “you don’t own your games”, which is completely valid, but we just went through the same cycle with music and then movies — and we’re all pretty happy with how that has worked out. Seeing video games go down that same road makes sense, and should work out well for us.
It gets more interesting when you talk about larger things like cars. It’s widely believed that most people won’t own a car in the not-too-distant future; they’ll just request a ride from Uber (or similar), likely with no human driver in it. Why own a car that just sits in your driveway at least 90% of the time?
The ramifications of this are potentially quite good. If no one is driving their own car, then the need for parking lots will decrease dramatically. Sure, Uber and others will need a place to keep their fleet, but it can be far out of the way — it won’t be next to your office, baseball stadium, or other popular areas. Those parking lots can be freed up for other uses.
Personally, I really like my car and don’t want to give it up, and I don’t see this part happening very soon, but it’s coming. I already don’t own my music, movies or games, and essentially don’t own my phone.
What will we still own in 2030? Quite a bit, I’d think, but certainly less than we do now, and it’ll only keep dropping from there.