I had a great discussion with my Dad on the weekend about how the Internet has changed the culture of consumers into a rental model rather than ownership. My Dad has always been into music (he was in a band which released a ‘single’ that hit the top 100 and also supported The Who but sadly that was the end of the Howard-pop-music fame) and to this day he still buys CDs. He’s the definition of a technophobe, although this hasn’t restrained him commercially.
We were discussing the music industry. He still buys CDs. He prefers to go to shops to buy CDs, but this is getting increasingly harder, and accepts that from time to time he has to shop on Amazon, which is delegated to my Mum. I use Spotify, which is an alien concept to him. I described this as renting the ability to listen to an almost unlimited music library, on a monthly basis, but never owning a single track.
In the past few weeks I’ve heard a lot about Snapchat, a successful photo sharing service used by a young user base. When I say successful, naturally I don’t mean commercially – I mean in usage terms. 20 million photos a day are shared on Snapchat, by an audience aged 13 to 23 (so they are almost uncommercialisable from the outset).
The fascinating thing about Snapchat is that when you share a photo with a friend (and you can only share with friends), the photo lasts between 1 and 10 seconds. The sender decides on the longevity of the photo.
It’s interesting to think about my Dad, who will only buy music on a physical forma, and my kids who want to send photos which are temporary. It’s a completely different mindset.
Even after using Snapchat for a couple of weeks, I went to my Activity feed (or whatever it’s called on Snapchat) and looked for all the photos that I’ve sent. Only they weren’t there – everything is temporary.
And then it hit me. We talk about the difference between a digital natives and a digital immigrants all the time, and most of ‘us’ which fall into the latter group think we’re natives, but it’s only when we use applications like Snapchat does the divide seem so wide. Especially when I still like to print out my favourite photos.