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John Lennon, Possessions and HMV

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HMV CRISE
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Imagine no possessions, it isn't hard to do. So said John Lennon in 1971, and Mary Meeker in 2012. Of course the words of John Lennon should be taken with a degree of caution. He went on to invite us to "imagine no countries" - a suggestion which even Yoko Ono can surely see would have totally ruined the Olympics.

In contrast if you're ever looking to bluff your way predicting the future then web stats boffin Meeker should be the first name you hit up.

Always a trustworthy soothsayer for trends bobbing up in the middle distance, she tends to make two public declarations each year which are must-copy fact fests. While her most recent slidetastic musings were at the end of last year they have an application to the current plight of HMV.

One of the big themes that Meeker talked about was how the world was moving to an 'asset light' state. Essentially we're all going to own a lot less stuff. A world with fewer, if not no, possessions.

When the iPod came along many of us disposed of our CDs - took them to the charity shop, used them for de-icing the car windscreen, maybe discarded them in the bushes by the doctor's surgery.

Additionally, based on a scan of the average tube train we're increasing reconciled to the idea that we won't own paper copies of books. Possessions used to be worthwhile because they represented access to an experience. A DVD allowed access to the film, a print copy was the only way to read a book even a car was the means to take you to your mate's house late at night.

Follow this trajectory away from possessions and with a hop and skip you get to a situation where increasing numbers of under-25s don't really see the value of owing a TV or a car.

Maybe this was the problem for HMV - there's a growing number of people for whom HMV didn't sell the product they wanted. The retailer might have accounted for 40% of physical sales but they didn't want physical items. They wanted data. No matter how cheaply HMV sold it, it wasn't what they wanted.

The notion of being asset light doesn't rock everyone's boat. (Worth qualifying that those naysayers tend to be the people who bought their own house before property price apocalypse delivered the irony of needing to sell your first born child to get that second bedroom they needed. The refuseniks also tend to wear wristwatches, not realising that their phone does a near identical job with the added LOLs of the internet).

As we're looking forwards owning things is going to be less important. For status with others and for our own happiness. Imagine, a world with no possessions might be closer than we think.

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