[Article first published as Microsoft’s New Mobile Phone-Style Xbox Live Contracts no Longer a Rumor on Blogcritics.]
Over the years, especially in electronics, we’ve all seen changes in how companies charge users. Fading are the days when a customer would by hard and tangible “things” and what’s showing up to take that’s place is the sale of services, either in replacement of or addition to these things we think we own. Sure you paid for your smartphone, but how much convenience does it add to your life if you’re not paying per month for voice and data? How many people do you know who don’t buy DVDs or Blu-rays anymore because of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu? Do you still see high numbers of physical servers and hardware in your IT department’s closets or are they starting to move towards cloud-based SaaS subscriptions? And after work you’re not taking your Xbox 360 out for a spin to play with your friends until you pony up for a LIVE subscription. You see kids? Subscriptions and contracts. That’s how things roll these days.