Vodafone's new plan lets UK customers rent their phones.
Vodafone’s new Red Hot plan lets U.K. customers rent rather than buy their mobile phone and trade it in annually. Participants choose among several high-end phones, pay a monthly fee (covering calls and texts, 2GB of data and insurance), then trade in the phone after a year. This ties into our trend Non-Commitment Culture (consumers are opting for choices that require a less permanent commitment and becoming more likely to rent goods, share them with friends, etc.), as well as our trend Eat, Pray, Tech (high-tech devices are becoming as integral to people as food and clothing, making the latest tech more than just a luxury or a guilty pleasure).
Vodafone even enlists “mobilologist” Florie Brizel to put Red Hot in a trends context: In a press release, she explains that “The need to ‘own’ things outright—where owning something translates to ‘stability’—has less meaning for a mobile population than for the older generation for whom ‘acquisition’ translated to ‘upward mobility’.” Meanwhile, some consumers crave the most up-to-date phones, “based on the notion that they’ll be able to demonstrate that they’re smarter, more powerful, productive, creative or even sexy.” Renting is also cheaper: Vodafone says the plan would save an owner of a 16GB iPhone 5 more than £200. —Marian Berelowitz