WSJ.com has a story [via Techdirt] about all the different services where people can exchange or “flip” their products, in essence you buy something and then resell it, so you’re only owning it for a short time for a small cost. This it the Netflix model (packaged differently). I guess that’s the gold standard now, Netflix-for-X.
But one model they mention is eBay – where the exchange is between individuals, rather than a controlled top-down facilitated exchange via a Netflix. As Dirk pointed out in email, there’s a too-much-stuff semi-conservation thing at root here as well, we can’t deal with any more stuff. That led me to consider a few other services that are out there as part of the “access-not-ownership” trend.
Freecycle is a grassroots organization that sets up local email groups (I run the Coastside group where I live) for people to get rid of stuff they’d otherwise throw out by offering it free (and only free) to somebody nearby. We got rid of an old shed yesterday – someone came and disassembled it and hauled it away. For free. I got service for free; they got a shed for free.
BookCrossing is all about sharing free books.
I think these peer-to-peer models for exchange of extra stuff (whether free, or commercial, like eBay) are equally valid and hold great potential. Instead of trying to be the next Netflix, maybe more companies should try to be the next Napster?!