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Retailers Struggling With The Concept Of Digital Ownership

October 28th, 2010

That means you can allow third-party consumer sales to happen—with you taking a healthy cut—without destroying your core revenue stream.

Part of the benefit of lending in the physical world is to encourage more sales. When a consumer buys the latest high-tech gadget, friends and family often want to see it, to play with it. Those short-duration loans amount to little more than product demos.

Could those be replicated in digital retail by dramatically reducing the loan period? Kindle is offering to loan its books for 14 days, which is more than enough time to read the entire book. What if the loans could be offered for 30 minutes? Enough time to flip through the book to determine if it’s of interest, but not enough time to kill any potential sale.

A 30-minute loan of a song, game, movie or application could have a similar impact. The short duration loans could be free, with the longer duration ones—assuming you allow them—to be for a cut.

Let’s take it up a notch. With cloud-synching, many smartphones can exist virtually, with all of their content on the cloud, subject to being downloaded onto any identically configured piece of hardware at whim.

Consumers today can loan their credit cards to a family member or a friend. It’s entirely at their own risk, but they can do it. Let’s say three family members all have the same Android phone. Why not be able to “lend” the phone (actually, simply the phone’s contents) to someone else so that they can make purchases? Or be able to play your music, browse your photos, use your games and access your calendar?

The biggest issue is still this concept of ownership. When I buy a song, I want to be able to play that song during a dinner party. What if this party is virtual and we’re meeting digitally? What if it’s a company meeting of all members of a team and they are throwing a celebratory party? The company is sending the identical hors d’oeuvres and entrees to each location. Why not share selected songs that one employee paid for?

As more and more items are digitized, retailers need to get comfortable with the idea of consumer ownership. And they need to figure out fair ways to transition those concepts to a mobile world that is still run by physical-world humans.


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Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

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