Are we ready for cloud living?
No, not living in the sky like that city at the end of The Empire Strikes Back where Harrison Ford gets immobilised in chocolate. Have you ever:
- Rented a CD or DVD?
- Borrowed a book from a Library?
- Used a car club?
- Watched a movie on demand?
- Downloaded MP3s?
- Shared garden tools with your neighbours?
If ‘yes’ then you’ve done a bit of “cloud living” according to this month’s Wired magazine (article not available online). This is a snappy new term for a business strategy I’ve been promoting for years – product-service systems – delivering the service required by consumers without giving them ownership of a tangible product. This has significant environmental benefits – downloading an album on MP3 saves 40-80% of the carbon of buying a CD. The cloud analogy has been borrowed from ‘cloud computing’ – where all software and storage is on-line and your computer is simply a portal to the cloud (eg Google Docs). ‘Cloud living’ is a more attractive term than ‘product-service system’ and it also has the perspective of the consumer rather than the producer which propel it into the public arena.
Only one problem – if you google the term itself, it also means people who make money off the internet (selling ebooks etc) without any fixed base – allowing them to pursue the lifestyle they want (surfing, snow boarding and other cool things). Of course these are two are different sides (production/consumption) of the same coin, but as always it will take time to determine whether the consumption element of cloud living sticks.