In my previous article about in-app purchases and subscriptions, I touched on the topic of buying vs renting.
I like owning media. I like knowing that I own this album or movie and that if I want to watch it a year from now I can simply play it without worrying about it being available or not. Or about what’s going to happen when that specific digital store I’m buying the content from shuts down.
In a few years/decades, a lot of the services we’ve been using are going to shut down and be replaced by something else. You might argue that it doesn’t really change anything and if you’re just paying a subscription for an all-access model you might be right. You are just going to drop one subscription and make a new one to the new service so this might be a problem for only a few years. I still think that the base logic behind it is totally wrong on top of the fact that you will never know if the never service will carry all of the movies you care about that the old service had (we’ve seen lately that it’s not the case at all with every single company making their own streaming service with a lot of exclusive deals and series).
With real (physical) media you might argue that we get a similar problem. Technology improves and old devices are not going to be readable by newer ones (floppy disks, VHS, CDs, …) and you are right. You still own it though and if you really want to you can still find the older appliance to play it. It might be a hassle and you might not find anymore in a few decades, but it is possible.
With digital media is easier you usually can play old formats or worst-case scenario easily convert it to a new one with a minimal loss of information/quality.