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Chapters five and six of “What’s Mine is Yours” introduce & expand upon the concept of the Product Service System (PSS), a business model that taps into an otherwise flawed aspect of the market: often as not, consumers want the use of an object, not the artifact itself. The author suggests that traditional business models have been overlooking the music in favor of the CD, so to speak. In a PSS model, “ownership becomes less important than demonstrating use or use by association”: the use of a shared resource, rather than the resource itself, is what bespeaks the user’s personal brand.
I think the idea of looking at products as transient members of a person’s life is a compelling one. Not everything is made to sit on a mantelpiece or be laid out on a dining room table for generations; just look at cell phones, which are notorious for giving out after two years and are then laid to rest in a garbage heap or in pieces in a third-world marketplace—or, more immediately in my case, hearing aids, which are supposed to be replaced every five years (if they don’t break or succumb to environmental damage beforehand).
In the case of transient products, especially technology, outright ownership can be pricey. A PSS system, according to the author, removes barriers to entry and use (price, availability, social status) by making the service global and as private or public as necessary. Could a culture of sharing benefit the hearing aid market?
Gears are turning…