Shares in Microsoft are down this morning after the announcement that the new generation of the Xbox 360 gaming console will not play used games. Yes my friends, the Borg are trying to assimilate our wallets yet again.! I’m not going into a rant about corporate greed because I think that free enterprise is a good thing.
I also happen to be married into a privately owned entity and I don’t think we are in the least bit greedy. If you add up all the times we’ve rescued wacky family members in yet another melodramatic crisis, paid storage fees for friends who just can’t part with their junk…I mean stuff…, helped the house keeper buy an alarm system for her house after she caught a peeping tom looking in her bathroom window, make donations to the humane society, etc. I think it’s fair to say that Mr. Husband and I share and help out where and when we can.
What I am going to rant about today is the some businesses are trying some really dirty rotten underhanded nasty stuff right under our noses. For years now software companies have been playing around with how to squeeze another nickel out of customers. Are they trying to create another software or an update that adds value ? Nope!
They want to turn transform ownership of software, and other digital content into a subscription so that we pay for the same thing, over and over and over again. At least with a magazine subscription we get some new content with each issue. Although it’s hidden in between advertisements and those horrendous smelly scratch and sniff perfume cards. I’m glad the New Yorker magazine doesn’t do the perfume thing. Thank God for small favors.
The main thing that really sets my grits on fire is all this playing fast and loose with ownership. The average consumer generally operates under the increasingly false assumption that once you purchase an item and have the receipt in hand that it belongs to you. You now own it. Au Contriare! The fun has only just begun.
With software, games and music, and now even E books, you do not own it. You may think you do, but all you have done is pay for the right to use it …. X number of times. X = a very small number in this equation. And God help you if your laptop, gaming console, or digital music device decides to crash and burn, jump in the toilet, or jump out of your backpack when walking in a far away land. Also you do not own it in the sense, that since it belongs to you, you can choose to lend it or give away. HA! Gotcha! Can’t do that either. Well you sort of can, but I’m not going to get into that now. It may border on not quite kosher, and the only person I’m willing to lead astray is me, that’s trouble enough.
In some situations you can re-download digital content purchases from Amazon.com or iTunes. But there are limits on the number of times you can do this. That’s ridiculous in my opinion. I have been known to get mad at my malfunctioning Windows operating system and re-install it multiple times in a single day, fall asleep from mental exhaustion, get up the next morning and re-install it a few more times just because I can. What can I say, I’m a closet geek. I gave up putting the screws back on the cover of my computer years ago, because I’m always digging around in there for something to air blast the dust off, improve, upgrade, add-on, re-arrange, or just admire the intricate workings of such a magnificent mechanical work of art.
I know many people just don’t see the trouble in the ownership of digital content hoop dee la. But here me out please. Tinkering with ownership starts out small, but gathers steam. What if you suddenly find out that you can’t lend your favorite paper book to a friend or donate your used clothing and household items to a charity, or give your favorite sweater to a friend, because it’s against the law to sell or use “pre-owned” items? It could happen, stuff like this happens all the time.