Like many I am drawn to the sharing economy, it feels liberating and likely adds variety to our lives (where choice and variety are not the same thing). It challenges the big corporations and vested interests with their blandness and beigeness. AirBnB is of particular interest, I must confess I loath the corporate sleep factories masquerading as hotels that I stay in on business trips.
Most corporate sectors are protected by barriers to entry, regulation, “the knowledge” and so on. The sharing economy breaks those barriers down and disrupts cosy industries. How refreshing.
But then most of us work for those same corporations. As a result we get to be sick, grow old and have kids with some security. Perhaps that is a deal we might not wish to throw away too hastily. I am not sure that singing for our supper (and breakfast and lunch, every day) is really what we have in mind.
Try this excellent interview with Jaron Lanier for a deeper perspective http://www.salon.com/2013/05/12/jaron_lanier_the_internet_destroyed_the_middle_class/
Then we must also remember that pioneers of the sharing economy are global. Let’s take AirBnB, like many other web plays that kick off with a whiff of libertarianism, it looks like pulling off the global winner takes all trick, yet again controlling a huge share of the entire global supply of some commodity, in this case shared accommodation for travellers. See also Uber et al. In each case the market does actully contain a handful of players, but it is a tiny handful sucking in supply globally.
I don’t think that is really what we have in mind either is it?
Well done AirBnB and Uber, you’ve created a new market, based on new de facto standards that you have brilliantly realised. But you can’t have it all, sorry. It is time to take those standards and make them open.
Amazon, the same goes for you, come on, hand over the Kindle, the content standards and the market platform. Well done, but that’s enough thank you.
And so on.
What do you think ?