The Epic Struggle of the Internet of Things
STERLING B., The Epic Struggle of the Internet of Things, Strelka Press, 2014
|Topics||Business Model, Miscellaneous, Technology|
Bruce STERLING, in “The Epic Struggle of the Internet of Things”, says that IoT is not about Things on the Internet, and that individuals are no more “consumers” or “users” when IoT (as well as when Facebook, for example) is involved: IoT products providers would indeed be pleased to sell them at cost, because their aim is not to provide people with IoT products, but to implement digital surveillance. STERLING's proposed solution, almost impracticable as he himself has admitted, should be an entity as strong and as powerful as the Big Five – Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft are – are, which may emerge only if States abandon their idea of being governments and start to try to build themselves as a platform (even if, in an interview about his paper “The Epic Struggle of the Internet of Things”, another solution he suggests is open source).
STERLING would therefore probably find useless to talk about the possibility or not of a second-hand market for IoT products, considering that – in his opinion – IoT is not about Things. But this doesn't mean that we can't try to provide some little help anyway, through the analysis we expect to carry out. Indeed, first of all, willing or not, the Internet of Things is becoming a component of our reality, so there is need to understand how to face it: we can say that ownership or usability of Things is not the essence of the problem, but it is a problem anyway, as long as individuals will be interested in knowing what they can do with the IoT product they have acquired. Moreover, in proposing some alternative and/or corrected business models,we may just focus on reducing the gap between what the consumers want and what they can actually do with the product, or we may also take into consideration the need for reducing digital surveillance: e.g. we can simply suggest to enterprises more transparency about the juridical relationship between the consumer and the IoT product (see for example the alternative business models highlighted in How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Competition); we can ask for more competition and freedom of choice concerning the “service” part of the product; or we can promote the realization of IoT products where the “service” part is as little as possible or even absent, in order to let the consumers be “owners” not only under a juridical perspective, but also under a material/“philosophical” one.