As technology embraces the digital, abandoning the crude and primitive notion of "physical existence" entirely, the idea that you actually own the media you buy is vanishing faster than that goddamn Walkman you swore was in the closet. And it's more than inconvenient for consumers; it may be apocalyptic for our society. Here's why ...
5It's Not Just Software -- It's Everything
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If you tried to purchase an Adobe product recently, you're already aware of this trend. As of 2013, you can no longer buy programs such as Photoshop, Flash, or Dreamweaver. You can only "subscribe" to them for a monthly fee. Yes, now you have the privilege of paying for your software forever. Isn't the future wonderful?
... for Adobe stockholders?
It's like choosing apartment living because the government demolished all the houses and banned building new ones.
And this is not confined to niche software. Everything is embracing the "You're just renting it" philosophy. Imagine you come home from work one day and go to flip open the erotic thriller you've been reading -- the one about the time traveler who journeys back to the Cretaceous period to be with the dinosaur he loves. But when you sit down to delve back into Tyrannosaurus Sex: You Don't Need Long Arms To Fingerbang, you find the book has vanished from your Kindle. That can, and has, happened. And what's more, it's completely legal.
And now you're stuck having to read about pterodactyls, like some kind of asshole.
In 2009, after a rights dispute with a publisher, Amazon remotely erased all copies of an e-book from the Kindles of everyone who had ever purchased it. That book? George Orwell's 1984. Somewhere, the abstract concept of irony had the most powerful orgasm of its life.
"Big Brother is lol-ing."
4The Things You Own Are Now Tied To The Fate Of The Company That Makes Them
If an eccentric billionaire and a professional wrestler -- like, say, Elon Musk and the Iron Sheik -- team up to put Adobe out of business next week, all of their programs may up and switch off. We don't mean that they'll stop offering patches and updates; we mean that one day, you'll try to open Photoshop and be met with cold, indifferent silence. The product ceased to exist as soon as the company that sold it to you did. The fate of the things you "own" are now directly tied to the fates of the company that makes them. So you better hope they're around forever.
Gamers are already painfully aware of this. Many video games now require you to stay connected to the company's server to play, even in single-player mode. If the server goes down or gets overwhelmed, you can't keep playing -- you have to switch to Solitaire. At least, until Solitaire moves to a subscription model. Then it's back to good ol' masturbation for you.
And when the company decides, after a few years, to switch off their servers, that game is gone forever. It's happening already. When GameSpy's servers shut down in 2014, players of Crysis, Battlefield 1942, and the original Halo were left with a crippled playing experience. And they got off lucky. Fans of Darkspore were screwed in March of this year, when EA straight up turned the game off. Your video games now have an expiration date, like Spam. Or wait, like anything except Spam.