American dream – owning nothing and having access to everything?

Many thanks to Henry Chueh (a former student) who alerted me to this article from the site.

In 1950 the American Dream was owning a house and the maximum amount of consumer goods.

In 2050 the American Dream may be owning nothing, but having access to everything.

The Sharing Economy is the tool enabling this shift from ownership to access. At a high level the sharing economy involves – utilising inefficient assets so the resources of those who have, can be accessed by those who want.

What happens when the importance of access to things trumps the value of owning those same things? The end of ownership. From computer hardware, to houses, trucks, cars, and more, the notion of ownership is changing as software enables the matching of people and organizations that have things and those that need them.

It reminded me of a leader article in The Economist (see picture below) last year on the sharing economy, which is a little like online shopping, that started in America 15 years ago.

At first, people were worried about security. But having made a successful purchase from, say, Amazon, they felt safe buying elsewhere. Similarly, using Airbnb or a car-hire service for the first time encourages people to try other offerings. Next, consider eBay. Having started out as a peer-to-peer marketplace, it is now dominated by professional “power sellers” (many of whom started out as ordinary eBay users). The same may happen with the sharing economy, which also provides new opportunities for enterprise. Some people have bought cars solely to rent them out, for example.
owning nothing

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