there used to be a time when you bought things and you owned them.

my first cassette tape (kids, ask your parents) was queen’s greatest hits. my last compact disc was the bouncing souls’ anchors aweigh album. then music turned completely digital and you could own “a thousand songs in your pocket.”

you used to buy movies on vcr tapes (again: kids, ask your parents). watching television was by appointment until you could get the box set on dvd when that became a widely accepted format.

at one point, you would buy a piece of software and install it on a certain number of computers, and that license would be good for as long as that software was supported. i remember using adobe photoshop 5 long after photoshop 7 was released because it still worked on my machine.

and with all this new digital media and software available, did you have too much data to save on your computer? well you had to buy larger hard disk drives or potentially (if you were a real baller) an external drive.

you buy it, you own it.

but that was then. and this is most certainly now.

the thought of buying music, or movies, or television, or even storage space is quaint. we even subscribe to faster shipping with amazon prime. (and sure, you get a lot more than just free 2-day shipping with prime.) the application you use to save your notes. the desktop productivity software you use to create your spreadsheets and presentations for work. your iphone. (you probably subsidize it with a 2-year cellular agreement, or even more frequently than that!) the audiobooks you listen to on your daily commute to and from the office. perhaps even your actual car if you’re rich enough for BMW’s or porche’s subscription services.

you don’t own these things anymore.

this is a tough thing for some executives and managers to understand, especially as it pertains to technology. long gone are the days of buying a thing and owning it until it falls apart on you. the “cost of doing business” isn’t a one-time fee anymore: it’s monthly, and it’s not changing any time soon. just ask apple how their earnings are coming along from their services line of business.