The Age of 0 Ownership

Ehab Abaideen
3 min readMay 30, 2021

We live in the digital age in which most services are software digital services. One of the most revolutionary devices that transformed human life is smartphones.

According to Statista, there are 3.6 billion smartphone owners globally, expected to grow to 4.3 billion by 2023.

With these high numbers, we recognize the importance of a smartphone for individuals worldwide. However, times have changed since smartphones were introduced, and for that matter, since prior tech innovations were introduced.

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The Subscription-Based Age

Let’s kick this off with some questions:

  1. How do you watch your favorite movies and TV shows?
  2. How do you consume music daily and podcasts?
  3. How do you get access to any software that delivers the above services?

A lot of people would answer the first question with a) Netflix b) Amazon Prime c) Hulu or others. The second one could go to Spotify, Apple Podcast, or others.

Last question is one of two, Apple Store or Google Play.

All of these have one thing in common, all the services they provide are not transfer of ownership. Meaning, we don’t own any of the services we pay for. The hundreds of movies that were paid for are not yours to keep so long as you disable your account, you have no access to them.

All of your favorite music and podcasts are gone once you cancel your subscription. These are only a few examples.

The Epic Games versus Apple and Google debacle made it clear that businesses pay fees (tax) to stay listed. These two are the most popular or usable two mobile operating systems. Businesses own nothing on the digital stores, neither do consumers.

Epic vs Apple (photo source)

Without apps, our phones are useless. We have apps, but we don’t own any content. We own a slab of metal and other materials that can take photos and make phone calls.

Free-to-Use Apps

It’s often said, if you don’t pay for the product, you are the product. We were introduced to mass media as a free service because we “can’t afford it”. The argument of whether it’s good or bad or anything in the middle isn’t at question here.

Free apps although aren’t subscription-based, they follow the same model as subscription-based apps. Anything we interact with on social media and all the information available on the internet, any content we submit, or discussions we engage with, they belong to the developer or business. We only have access to them but in a click of a button, without reason, at the developer’s discretion, we can be deprived of the service.

These facts only presenting a few examples, but a lot more follow the same model including web apps or platforms as well.

We live in the age of no ownership which is an interesting evolution and fascinating as to how we ended up here and how it got accepted globally. Although, important to note that there are benefits to this model.

What do you think? Is it better this way; do the benefits outweigh the cons?



Ehab Abaideen

Communication professional with a degree in contemporary communication and 8+ years of work experience in different fields and industries.