What if Owning a Home was Like Owning Quicken Software?
I opened up my Quicken 2006 Software today to catch up on reconciling some bank statements, and downloading credit card charges and stock account info. I was greeted with this message:
After April 30, you will no longer be able to access the following through Quicken 2006:
– Downloads of your bank, credit card, credit union, or investment account transactions.
– Online bill pay activity, stock quotations, news headlines and technical support.
How you can stay connected:
To continue using online services, you need to upgrade to Quicken 2009….Click the “Buy Now” button and follow the online prompts.
In other words, the Quicken software I purchased and own has expired. I must either decide to make due with a crippled version with which I must now hand enter all my transactions, or succumb to the extortion known in the software industry as the “forced upgrade”.
What if our future homes work this way? In 20 years everything will be computerized in new homes. What if one day, on the third anniversary of purchasing your new home, you pull into the driveway, activate your garage door remote, and a sweet female voice comes on through your on-board auto/home information system informing you.
After April 30, you will no longer be able to access the following features and functionality of your home:
– Garage door remote operation.
– Automatic sprinkler system.
– Central air and Heat system.
– Commode in the guest bath.
– Hot water.
How you can continue using the features and functionality of your home:
To continue using your home comfort features, you need to upgrade to Home Convenience Package 2030.1.b. Press the $ button on your control panel and an operator will be happy to take your credit card information and reinstate the desired features of your home.
I can imagine the screaming in the house from upstairs: “Dad, there’s no hot water and the toilet won’t flush”. And Dad will turn to wife, “For crying out loud Marge, I thought you were going to call and upgrade to the Premium Plumbing 8.0 Hot and Happy service package!”.
Then of course, with that new package you’ll be forced to get rid of your 3 year old water heater and purchase a new, more efficient model, even though the old one still works just fine.
Seriously, I think we’re heading in that direction because the younger generation is being programmed to think that nothing is owned. Everything we have and use is slowly being converted to a pay-as-you-go system, software being a primary example. Think back to the 1970s and 1980s. What recurring monthly bills did we have? Very few actually. No cell phones, no internet service, no online or forced subscription software, no Onstar, XM Radio, text messaging, ATM fees. Cable TV was just getting started. You basically bought stuff you needed and you owned it outright.
Today, we use more stuff and own less of it. We pay for text messages, why not pay for flushing the commode or opening the garage door? It’s coming. Believe me.
Keep your eye on some of these newer “progressive” residential developments that will be coming online in the next 10 years. I think in the future “home ownership” may come to look more like renting or communal living unless consumers start saying no to some of this stuff. Especially if we let software systems start managing vital aspects of our homes, such as the appliances and mechanical operation.
Meanwhile, I’m off to research personal finance software. I may renew my Quicken subscription if left with no viable alternative, but if something better is out there, I’ll find it and switch. I’ve used Quicken since my 1988 DOS version. Wow. I’ve been a loyal Quicken user for over 20 years, and they are happy to leave me dead in the water with crippled software if I don’t agree to buy an upgrade I don’t want or need. I guess new users aren’t profitable enough so they need to stick it to us 20+ year customers.