Lean Consumption Concepts in WSJ?


WSJ.com – In a Dizzying World, One Way to Keep Up: Renting Possessions

Monday's WSJ had an article about the trend of people “renting” possessions, a concept that is explored in the book “Lean Solutions”. The idea being that people want their problems solved rather than necessarily wanting the hassle of owning and maintaining things.

Think about Netflix, mentioned in the article — sure it's an alternative to Blockbuster, but it's also an alternative to owning DVD's. If the problem is “need entertainment”, then Netflix solves that in a pretty elegant way (DVD's arrive automatically in the mail after you send one back). But, it requires that you do “unpaid work” (in Womack and Jone's terminology) of ranking and listing movies on their website, plus you only get 3 DVD's at a time, which is hardly a substitute for a DVD collection. I don't think Netflix is “solving hte problem completely.” It seems like a video on demand service that made “every movie available at every time” might be a more complete solutioni, and one we'll see someday, I bet. The solution would be provided more completely without you having to own and maintain (and upgrade!) DVD's.

The article also talks about people “flipping” fast moving technology by selling items on eBay, such as iPods, when the latest and greatest comes out. Is there a “lean consumption” service possible that would manage your portfolio of tech devices for you, even transferring data between them? What if, instead of buying an iPod, you contracted a monthly fee to always have the latest and greatest iPod, and that company automatically put all of your music (and now video?) on there for you? Instead of $399 for an iPod, would you pay $20 a month over a 3-year period to always have the latest and greatest? Somebody might. Maybe it's cell phones or PDA's or PC's, but there's something to think about.

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