ExcerptThe internet has seen many steps of evolution since the inception of the world wide web in 1992. They comprise various steps in electronic, mobile and social business (Wikipedia 2015). While all phases have spurred new business models, the recent social web also enables a paradigm change from owning to using goods and/or services. Contrary to the traditional market model, which is based on ownership, the “Sharing Economy” is built on using and sharing of products and services among others. The principle per se is not new: sharing resources is known in business-to-business (B2B) domains, such as the sharing of machinery in agriculture and forestry (e.g., Maschinenring in the German-speaking countries) as well as in business-to-consumer (B2C) domains (e.g., self-service laundries, ski/video and car rental, public libraries and pools). It has recently received a proliferation to consumer-to-consumer (C2C) transactions and resulted in new business models. Three drivers may be identified for this development (Botsman 2014, p. 24; Hamari et al. 2015, pp. 5 ff.):
Changing consumer behavior While ownership has been a predominant model for using goods (e.g., cars) in the past, temporary usage has recently become more attractive for many consumers (Matzler and Kathan 2015, p. 71; Rifkin 2014, pp. 32 ff.). Examples are car2go, a company owned by Daimler which offers access to shared mobility services as well as Nextbike and Green Bikes Barcelona, both companies offering bike rental services. Among the reasons for this shift are convenience, lower prices, and ecologic sustainability (Eckhardt and Bardhi 2015).
Social networks and electronic markets The networking among peers is mainly enabled by social networks and community platforms. They link many consumers who are willing to share their goods among each other (the “crowd”). Additionally, electronic market platforms (e.g., InnoCentive) reduce the formerly high search and transaction costs. They create mechanisms for trust and reputation in anonymous markets (e.g., rating and feedback) and offer integrated fulfillment as well as payments functions (e.g., social media payment) which ensure easy and reliable compensation for using the shared services.
Mobile devices and electronic services A strong enabler for accessing services in the “app economy” (MacMillan et al. 2009) conveniently has come with mobile smart devices, such as smartphones and tablets. For example, a solution for sharing cars is much simpler and more convenient for consumers based on intelligent hardware instead of physical gear. Companies, such as car2go or DriveNow in Germany, Sharoo in Switzerland, or Getaround and RelayRides in the USA, rely on a combination of an electronic service using smartphone apps and smartcards instead of physical keys.