Thoughts on Purchase Vs. Rent.

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The jury’s still out on the age old conundrum should I buy or should I rent.  Disney’s announcement yesterday that they will sell digital copies of their movies when added to recent statistics showing higher growth rate of digital movie purchases (compared to rentals) suggests a directional winner. But the digital thing adds to the texture of this divide.  Where does one store the digits?  In the home? On a device or end point? Or, in the cloud? And if the latter, is it really owned? Because it takes plumbing to get to it.

Music on ipods and iphones are clearly purchased, even though they are in the cloud and on the device. Netflix is an aggregator and renter, with plumbing required to access the assets. Books on a Kindle are purchased and device bound. They become part of a family’s digital library, bought one volume at a time. The ability to share digital books, unlike paper books, is harder but not impossible. (Stay tuned.) I believe the purchase model will win out over the rented model. I believe the cloud will continue on as a big thing but so will end-point and device storage. Each home will have a Teraflop or beyond to hold for its pictures, home vids, purchased movies and medical records. The back-up and syncing businesses will also be quite viable. Digital assets will be contested in divorce – another thing for lawyers to study.

How will all this affect marketing and branding? Digital things are harder to classify, find and remember. Less visual muscle memory. Less context. Branding in the digital world will become more important but way harder to do. The future. Peace.