We can lease various products, or lease-to-own, but that alters the ownership consideration. When you buy software from the App Store do you own it? Apple can prevent you from using it. What about movies you buy on iTunes? You own them, right? Maybe not.
Own? Or, Use?
Modern technology has begun to blur the line between ability to use a product for a fee, and product ownership. Apple Music is not rent to own. It’s rent to use. Pay the monthly fee and you get access to 40-million songs you may listen to 24/7 if you choose. Stop paying and the music stops playing.
We buy software from app developers and the App Store, right? Do you own the software? Or, did you just sign up for usage for a fee? Apple can and does block applications from running on iOS and macOS. Think of it as lease to use almost forever. Or, until the app doesn’t work anymore.
Casey Johnston describes another scenario which should be disturbing since Apple claims to be so customer centric.
When you buy a movie on iTunes, it’s yours forever, until such a time as when Apple maybe loses the rights to distribute it, and then it will disappear from your library without a trace
In other words, you can buy a movie on iTunes, and view the movie as long as you want, but if Apple loses the rights to distribute the movie, you’re out of luck and cannot download it again; maybe forever.
That doesn’t sound too customer centric to me. Apple’s iTunes Terms of Services:
Content may not be available for Redownload if that Content is no longer offered on our Services.
Well, we can’t say we weren’t warned, right?
I have to agree with others who point out that the big Buy button we remember from days gone by doesn’t mean what we think it means. Check out the iOS App Store. There are two buttons. Get and a price tag. Get means what you think. You get to download the application but you don’t own it. The price tag– say, $1.99 for an app– means you can download it for a price, use it only as long as it is available. In-app purchases do not mean you can buy an app, but only upgrade to more features– to use– for a price.
Ownership just isn’t what it used to be.