Buying new technology is expensive and always a risk. How much use will you actually get out of it before it becomes obsolete? Services offering the option of renting technology - instead of buying it outright - are bringing the power of the sharing economy to an industry that desperately needs a new approach.
Sharing services for electronic devices benefit both consumers and the environment.
We've all seen the photos of hundreds of people queuing outside the Apple Store to get the latest iPhone. And we've probably all seen the images of landfills around the world, piled high with electronics. Our desire to buy and own the best and latest piece of tech has one huge, toxic drawback: the growing mountains of e-waste that are huge burden on both the environment and societies around the world.
What if there was a way to reduce the amount of electronic devices in circulation, whilst increasing the amount of people who have access to them? One solution lies in the sharing economy.
One example of a website that's leading the way is Grover, a German subscription service that offers a ‘Spotify for technology’ approach. Whether it’s a Playstation, a new smartphone, camera, or a specialist lens for travel, Grover offers a subscription model to pay monthly for a period of 1, 3, 6, or 12 months, with a longer period having a lower monthly cost. And if you want to keep the device at the end of the subscription, Grover will make an offer for the remaining purchase price.
The startup sets a limit at 120 per cent of the RRP purchase price, with Grover offering a final sale offer of one euro when the limit is reached. For those that are accident prone or have a history of dropping their devices, Grover covers 50 percent of repair costs, with the rest to be covered by the user.
Michael Cassau, founder of Grover, believes that offering fast access to ideas, products, and services is more important today than permanent ownership. Along with growing responsible consumerism to reduce unnecessary purchases, the sharing economy is well served by Grover’s approach which serves anyone from industry or for the home.
Grover was able to expand into the US in 2016, and has entered into cooperation agreements with some of the largest electronic distributors, including MediaMarkt, Saturn, Conrad and the Apple dealer Gravis.
Sharing your own purchases
Another approach is via German company Gearo, offering an ‘Airbnb for technology’ or peer-to-peer technology renting option, where users can place their unused technology onto a rental marketplace and rent other equipment from other Gearo users.
Gearo generally focuses on technology for photography and film-making, from cameras, lenses and audio equipment to drones and pilots. Those putting their equipment on the marketplace set their own prices, and Gearo provides comprehensive insurance in the event of equipment breakage or loss. Gearo is currently only available in Germany, but may widen its scope in the future. In the UK, FatLama offers a similar service, where users can share electronic gadgets like cameras and drones, but also bicycles, camper vans and kids toys.