Did you know that the world’s largest taxi company owns no vehicles? Or that the largest provider of rooming accommodations doesn’t have any real estate whatsoever?
If you’re a frequent user of mobile apps, this probably doesn’t come as a surprise. In fact, the largest taxi company is the ride-sharing app Uber, while the largest room accommodation provider is Airbnb. These companies are two examples of businesses that have helped create what is known as “the sharing economy” and thrive in it. Users can benefit from lending their services to other users and vice-versa thanks to the economy created by these apps.
What is the Sharing Economy?
The sharing economy is, as the name suggests, an economic model powered by peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing. It’s where asset owners (cars, rooms, clothes and other goods) can lend their possessions to those who need to use them in exchange for money.
This is made possible through mobile apps and websites that connect the two parties. The companies do not have to provide any physical goods for their services, as their job is to enable the connection. Of course, they take a portion of the fees in exchange for providing this service.
The sharing economy has proven to be a successful endeavor and is expected to grow to $335 billion by 2025. Suffice to say, there’s a lot of value in sharing.
A key to the success of the sharing economy is mobile apps. One important function of the sharing economy is the ability for those in need of a service to easily reach those who can provide it at a moment’s notice, which mobility makes possible.
Take, for instance, ride-sharing apps like Uber or Lyft. If they were only available from a home computer, the usability of the services would plummet. If the users can’t access the app and request rides wherever they are, or if the drivers couldn’t receive requests while out and about, there would be no point to them whatsoever.
Thanks to the speed and convenience of the mobile apps, users can find and communicate with each other easily. While many businesses built around the sharing economy use websites as well, it’s no exaggeration to say the apps are what make everything possible.
Uber mobile app
What Can You Share?
The sharing economy has grown significantly in the past few years, and now encompasses a wide range of goods and services. People are now using apps and websites to lend their services for:
- Tasks and chores
- Dog sitting and walks
- Cars and rides
- Bikes and scooters
- Food delivery
- And more!
The possibilities are nearly endless, and more companies are creating their business models solely to contribute to the sharing economy.
Airbnb mobile app
Drawbacks to Sharing
There are some criticisms and drawbacks to the sharing economy, primarily involving regulatory concerns. A business that offers a rental service, such as rental cars or hotel rooms, must follow regulations set forth by the authorities. However, people who are simply sharing what they have through the app do not have to follow such regulations – at least not yet. This is criticized as being both unfair to legitimate businesses and dangerous to consumers; after all, regulations tend to be in place for a reason.
Additionally, allowing anyone to offer their services is not necessarily safe. Uber has been plagued with reports of drivers who have harassed or stalked women they gave rides to, or worse. There have been multiple lawsuits stemming from such incidents, and while Uber is the most well-known offender, it’s far from the only one.
As such, while the sharing economy continues to grow, there are certainly still some issues that must be addressed. As with all industries, though, these changes will happen over time as new regulations are set in place.
The sharing economy is an advancement made possible by the proliferation of mobile apps, allowing people to share their assets and services with people in need. While there are still some issues with it, it’s a quickly-growing industry with more and more services are being shared each day.
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