Reading this article about Tesla electric cars resonated with conversations we've had with modern video gaming.
In this case, Tesla makes an electric car. You can choose the base model, or pay extra to get extra battery range. The deal is that the extra battery range is there all the time, like DLC right on an install disk. You bought the exact same hardware and battery, but Tesla's software controls how much that hardware and battery will do depending on how much you pay.
For an emergency, Tesla pushed out a software change to give everyone extra battery life for 2 weeks, ie, they used a software patch to lift the arbitrary cap on how much of your battery is available to the car, like a company giving access to DLC free for 2 weeks.
Its prompted discussions not unlike our physical vs digital downloads, keeping systems online for patches, DLC and buggy games. You buy a car - a durable good - but the car company can download patches anytime to adjust the performance of your car without your consent, they can wall off content or features that are already there, but now want you to pay more for, can put in a top speed limiter, etc. Many car owners are a bit puzzled - in effect, they are finding out they don't really own the car in the way they used to, but that Tesla has significant control of their car. It also means that car reviews will be like day one video game reviews, or that the tendency of big video games to push off fixing bugs until after release may find its way into cars.
Its bringing a the consumer electronics mentality we've debated into the durable goods marketplace.
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