How large firms can use the hype of “sharing” stuf.

Nowadays we see sharing platforms all around us. From 3D printers to rooms, and from cars to just everything. Why is this just so popular? To start let’s have a look what the “sharing stuff” economy really is. The sharing economy is has several parts containing the following 6 (which can be more by the day, every new sharing platform has to have a fancy name with at least peer-to-peer in it):

  • social lending
  • peer-to-peer accommodation
  • peer-to-peer travel experiences
  • peer-to-peer task assignments
  • car sharing
  • commute-bus sharing.

I think every form has already been discussed in our lectures. We described how the platforms work, why they exist and how their influence could disrupt the current players in the effected markets. The platforms are based on the fact that people have things, things they actually don’t use all of the time which is a waste of production. So there is the supply of a certain good (just like in old-skool-economics), next to the supply there is the demand. The demand existing of persons who just don’t have the funding, desire or motivation to buy such a product for their own personal use. So demand and supply meet, where in conventional economics they meet in a store, a real estate company or a car rental spot, the new sharing economy combined with the IT innovations of the past years enables new ways to meet your supplier or customer. But what when the supplier isn’t the neighbor with its experimental 3D printer of a old lady with a car which she doesn’t use, what when the 3D printer stands in the Walmart and the car actually comes from Hertz.

Therefore we take a different insight in the mesh economy (again, mesh is a “new” term for exactly the same phenomenon). The mesh economy is something that has some robin hood like feeling around it. We can use other ones objects so we don’t have to buy one our self. It has a “Stick it to the man” feeling (oh yeah, a reference to my favorite movie, School of Rock”). But is this really true? And how can we maintain this knightly duty to remain independent?

To reference a well informed man:

We simply can’t. (Rob Ammerlaan, 2014).

And I simply tell you why, lets take the poster boy of sharing economy, Airbnb. I don’t know how many times you used it but my opinion changed over the many times I used. A few years ago, being an early adopter, I really enjoyed staying in an Airbnb location in Rome. It offered me a room for a price not comparable to hotels on a location which was better than the pope itself had. Last april (exact same time frame), I visited the same Airbnb room (twice the price, inflation?), which was now part of a larger group of rooms (still no problem). I thought the women my room was from just expanded her rooms, but this wasn’t true. She told me that most of the rooms available in Rome were owned by just one person (or group). This one person knowing exactly what the hotels asked and therefore raised the prices to exactly the same level as the hotels did. What happened to the “Stick it to the man” mentality? It disappeared, the people who used to be the poster boy of this movement became “the man” themselfs.  And this is exactly what I expect in the upcomming time, sharing economies turning into normal economies.

Today, I read a post about a initiative in San Fransisco, called DriveNow (!/howto). Just like Snappcar (and many other car sharing services), DriveNow offers you the joy of driving a car without owning one. But there is a huge difference, DriveNow only offers BMW’s, not that all the suppliers of DriveNow accidentally have got a BWM. DriveNow is owned by BMW. BMW saw the trend of car-sharing coming and tried to prevent their sales decrease by adjusting their business model.  And this is something I think will happen more and more, great initiatives like SnappCar and Airbnb being overturned into regular organizations. I hope we can enjoy the sharing economy for how long it lasts! It’s just there to become normal again:( (an no, I am not a pessimistic kind of guy)

Greetings Rob Ammerlaan!


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