I believe we all have learned the idea of sharing, probably ever since our childhood. Parents have obviously good reasons to teach their kids early on to share with their siblings. Kindergarten teachers in school also encourage the students to share with their classmates. In general, sharing is a good practice in life among friends and family members.
Sharing often stops when we are entering the realm of strangers, and that’s reasonable. After all, why should we trust strangers? There is a possibility that they may steal the things we share with. That’s indeed a valid concern.
Now, how about the idea that, sharing when we are all borrowers?
All of a sudden, the idea of sharing with strangers becomes not as bad. In fact, it’s actually a good idea. After all, for example, I would only use the lawn mower once a month or so. Why should I store that big lawn mower in my garage to take up so much space? How about that huge BBQ grill I only get to use occasionally? Or that inflatable swimming pool?
This idea of sharing is in fact being experimented in the US, and it’s being slowly adapted. For example zipcar allows its users to share the rental cars through the online/mobile reservation system. After you make a reservation, you simply walk up to your zipcar and use your zip card to unlock/open the car. That’s it! When you are done using the car, just leave it at the designated spot for the next driver.
There is another company implementing this sharing idea a little differently. WhipCar matches the car borrowers with the car lenders within the neighborhood. So essentially, you are borrowing your neighbors’ car!
I believe these sharing services will take off very soon. Why? Because our new generation or simply the current consumer base is getting very accustomed to the idea of paying for the service, instead of paying for the ownership. Netflix is doing quite well because people no longer prefer buying DVDs. And thousands of used books are being sold online because keeping books around is not a popular idea. If you want more examples, just ask your traveler friends.
Those who can figure out the proper business model first will dominate. And my bet is, that proper business model will involve social networking. 😉