Why own something when you can just pay for usage?
That increasingly seems to be the attitude across a whole host of product categories, as consumers forego ownership of everything from software to music to even clothing and instead choose to pay monthly fees based on a usage model called “x-as-a-service”.
As I wrote in an in-depth analysis this morning over at the NextMarket Report, what started in the enterprise is now everywhere as monthly service models also take hold across a variety of consumer markets: “Enterprise software has moved almost entirely to the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, as have Internet infrastructure like servers (IaaS). The X as a Service model is also gaining traction in consumer markets, whether it’s cars, furniture or clothing.”
But what about kitchen appliances?
Seems weird to think about, but the reality is that one of the biggest changes resulting from technology like the Internet of Things is the rise of new business models, and I expect that appliances are not immune to this as they increasingly become connected.
But the question for many is why now? Is there something unique about connectivity that enables this transition?
In short, yes:
“The biggest reason (for now, with IoT) is there’s an implied guarantee of uptime that would simply be impossible to keep if a service provider could not proactively manage and monitor a device. By being able to do so, the appliance maker can guarantee near 100% uptime, avoid costly defects, and ensure higher satisfaction through feature enhancements over the life of the device.”
The kitchen itself seems one of the first places where this new model could take hold. After all, it’s where some of the home’s biggest and most expensive appliances reside, and with appliance makers like Whirlpool and Samsung embracing the smart kitchen in their big appliance divisions, it wouldn’t surprise me if these manufacturers weren’t at least considering this model as a future option.
As for just how widely we would see the service model take hold, I expect to see if first and mainly in big appliances. I mean, who wants to subscribe to each and every small appliance in the kitchen?
Unless of course…
Maybe a consumer could subscribe to everything under one subscription fee in what I’ll call a “managed kitchen” concept.
Think about it: what if you could have a cutting edge kitchen with a new smart fridge, an Innit powered oven, a Juicero, a new Nespresso coffee maker, and a Thermomix? Sounds like smart kitchen nirvana, but it might cost a lot of money unless you can, well, subscribe to a service that provides all of these up front.
In other words, what if these new gadgets were essentially there from day one as part of a managed kitchen service? Instead of paying anywhere from a few grand all the way up to ten thousand or more for the futuristic kitchen of your dreams, how about starting off with a kitchen full of appliances for a hundred to two hundred per month?
Ok, so the managed kitchen isn’t a concept I’ve heard anyone talk about – in other words, it’s just an idea at this point – but I expect some company will eventually bite. It may not happen for a few years as most appliance makers are just getting their minds wrapped around the connected kitchen concept, but I don’t see why they wouldn’t they try to capture the entire kitchen of a consumer if they’re going to be going to the appliance-as-a-service model?
There may be very few appliance makers – with the exception of someone like Whirlpool/KitchenAid – could do this by themselves, but I expect that appliance makers could partner with others or that we will see the emergence of “managed kitchen” service providers that work with appliance makers to install and provide customer support.
Will the managed kitchen take hold? Too soon to tell, but I’m guessing someone somewhere is writing the business plan for such a concept right now.