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Media (R)evolutions: Digital companies don't need to 'own' anything when they can share

Roxanne Bauer's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

Traditionally, those with the largest empire or who controlled the most resources were considered to be the most powerful and successful. However, recent developments in digital technology have spawned a new breed of enterprise that dominates their respective industries without actually “owning” tangible assets.

The world's largest accommodation provider, Airbnb, doesn't own real estate. Alibaba, the world's leading e-commerce company, doesn't have any inventory. Facebook, the most popular media owner worldwide, doesn't create its own content. And Uber, the largest taxi company in the world, does not own any vehicles.

Nowhere is the sharing economy more disruptive than in rental/leasing services. This graphic, from PricewaterhouseCoopers in the UK, illustrates the expected growth of various rental sectors within the sharing economy.  These sectors are likely to grow much quicker than traditional rental sectors, and "the least developed sectors today, such as P2P finance and online staffing, could grow the quickest of all."

PWC Sharing Economy graphic

Globally, people are embracing the idea of the sharing or collaborative economy, in which companies link individuals with assets with others who need a service provided by those assets. This peer-to-peer sharing is coordinated through community-based online platforms.  As Statista and Mashable show, the rise of the sharing economy is a worldwide trend, with comfort levels relatively high in most regions — with the highest acceptance rates in emerging countries.

Global rise of sharing economy
The benefits— and motivations for users— in a sharing economy include reducing negative environmental impact (such as reducing the carbon footprint and consumption of resources), saving costs by borrowing and recycling items, providing people with access to goods who can't afford buying them or have no interest in long-term usage, increased flexibility and accelerating sustainable consumption and production patterns in cities around the globe.

Researcher Christopher Koopman, an author of a study by George Mason University economists, said the sharing economy "allows people to take idle capital and turn them into revenue sources. People are taking spare bedroom[s], cars, tools they are not using and becoming their own entrepreneurs.” 
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