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Car or smartphone?

I was browsing my Tumblr feed this morning and I found a link to an interview with Marc Andreessen posted by Fred Wilson.

I liked Marc’s response to a question relating to people’s love of cars and so I decided to post it to Facebook. I then received an email notification from Fred Wilson’s AVC blog titled “The New Freedom.” Turns out that he liked the quote as well. With so much love for this quote, I figured it was worth reposting here.

The interviewer started a question to Marc with, “But people love their cars.” This is his response:

“Ask a kid. Take teenagers 20 years ago and ask them would they rather have a car or a computer? And the answer would have been 100% of the time they’d rather have a car, because a car represents freedom, right?

Today, ask kids if they’d rather have a smartphone or a car if they had to pick and 100% would say smartphones. Because smartphones represent freedom. There’s a huge social behavior reorientation that’s already happening. And you can see it through that. And I’m not saying nobody can own cars. If people want to own cars, they can own cars. But there is a new generation coming where freedom is defined by “I can do anything I want, whenever I want. If I want a ride, I get a ride, but I don’t have to worry. I don’t have to make car payments. I don’t have to worry about insurance. I have complete flexibility.” That is freedom too.”

This ties in well with the return to city centers and downtowns. When people live in walkable neighbourhoods, cars can be more of a liability (car payments, insurance, parking, and so on). In fact, I think of them as a liability all around. Banks think of them as an asset, but I like my assets to increase in value.

The other interesting point that Marc makes about cars is that supply and demand are not very well matched using the current model. If you only use your car to drive to and from work, it sits idle 90% of the time. This is where the sharing economy comes into play: How can people better optimize that 90%?

My smartphone certainly doesn’t sit idle 90% of the time.

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