Jiva Technology

Living the subscription lifestyle

There was time not so long ago when I either bought things outright or had finance to buy things outright. But recently, I’ve noticed an increasing number of the things I buy are offered as a subscription. There are some financial reasons (that we don’t need to go into here) why companies want subscribers, but its interesting that the things that used to be offered on subscriptions were old fashioned, like magazines, whereas now it seems that the most cutting edge services like Netflix or Amazon Prime are the ones to offer subscriptions. I’ve been looking to buy a new car and even that is offered on subscription. I won’t own it, I’ll just use it for three years and hand it back or buy a new one. All in return for a monthly payment. Some of the car manufacturers even let me switch cars within the there years. Will everything we buy be on a subscription basis in the future? Is this an inexorable trend?

I ask the question because it occurs to me that if I want to subscribe to television services, then I might also want to subscribe to education services. Perhaps I’ll want the ability to pay a monthly fee, or the government might pay a monthly fee to get an education from different providers. “Ridiculous”, I hear you say, but why not? And what’s stopping it? I could pay monthly for my house (rental), my car (PCP), my TV, so why not an education for our children. Or perhaps I want to have a core of education services two days per week from a single institution and then subscribe to other services for the balance of my time. Some people are already doing this – children go to school and then have ballet, football or additional tutoring around the edge. The barrier to this type of flexibility usually comes down to the fixed costs of delivery and the need to plan in advance, but teachers are fairly mobile, classrooms are pretty uniform and teachers can (within reason) move from institution to institution. Would it make education delivery more flexible? Would parents becomes stressed by the constant movement or would it free things up to deliver the maximum in flexible delivery of education?

It might be a bad idea, but sometimes by thinking the unthinkable, great new ideas float to the surface. You only have to think about how Canadians solved the problem of snow on their power lines to realise that a certain amount of expansive thinking goes a long way.

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