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The Rental Economy



In November 5th 1999, Microsoft was ruled to be a Monopoly by a judge:


https://money.cnn.com/1999/11/05/technology/microsoft_finding/#:~:text=MSFT ruled a monopoly - Nov,5%2C 1999&text=NEW YORK (CNNfn) - A,the long-running antitrust trial.


The crime? A web browser. 


At the time, Microsoft was bundling windows with Internet Explorer so that Micrisoft would use their web browser instead of Netscape Navigator. The judget later ruled Microsoft must be broken up into Two companes: Windows OS and everything else, but it never happened. Microsoft ended up appealing in the Washington DC District court for a much more reasonable settlement: Make it easier for other software to run on windows and provide developers more free tools. 


Precedent is a critical part of Western law since decisions are usually built on top of Each other. This Epic Games v. Apple case has many very similar parallels. One party is preventing software from being installed on another, but the Microsoft case was different. Keep in mind at the time it was at least still possible to install third party software on Windows, but on IOS this can't even be done except with a Jailbreak.


Louis Rossmann has been repeating something interesting on his live streams. We as consumers seem to be okay with losing more and more control over the products we own, and this should be a very scary Future. 20 years ago if you told me a car company has a subscription service for heated seats, I would laugh at you. But today that's a reality:


https://www.businessinsider.com/bmw-subscription-model-for-features-2020-7#:~:text=According to CNN%2C the company,expect to keep the car.&text=But you would also have,to turn the features on.


I don't like the "rent everything" future we seem to be moving towards. Some things are just better if they are owned. Ownership allows one to free up cash flow for other products, build wealth, and most importantly, forces companies to innovate so they have to court buyers to purchase the shiny new product as opposed to just remotely turning it off after you stop paying them. I wish that we could create massive change by telling companies "Enough is enough, I do not want to pay your stupid subscription just to keep using my Speakers I already bought from you", but i'm not very hopeful for the future. 


But there is one silver lining: As Southeast Asia and India come online as First world countries, they could produce consumer electronics that are cheaper, longer lasting, repairable, and have no subscription fees as a way to compete. China already does this to some degree. Chinese Soldering irons and hand tools have gone from being a total joke to a real competitor, and I hope other companies that wish to find a market compete in the same way as well.


I am both hopeful and nillistic about new electronics going forward. Like the US vs China, we are going to see a drift in products and a divde of consumer preferences. I just hope you choose to spend your money on the right side. The future of consumer choice depends on it.




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