On April 7, in an opinion article for FT, “Today’s luxury is tomorrow’s normality”, Andrew McAfee quoted Hal Varian saying “A simple way to forecast the future, is to look at what rich people have today.” With a little help from Paul Krugman, the “Varian Rule” made it all the way through to Wikipedia, where it has an entry of each own now.
Apparently the rule has been more successful than the specific prediction Andrew wanted to talk about: home delivery
The “Varian Rule” (which I hereby name in Mr Varian’s honour) tells us that less-affluent people than me and the San Francisco technorati will summon a lot more of their goods and services online in the future, and have them show up on the doorstep. Scale economies and online efficiencies will combine to keep driving prices down within this business model, and entrepreneurs will realise that the middle class is a huge market, and tailor offerings for it.
and the corollary Andrew derives immediately:
The only true problem with this future scenario is that the people delivering the goods and services will not be well paid, just as they are not today.
Also nicely formulated here:
In the new world of on-demand everything, you’re either pampered, isolated royalty — or you’re a 21st century servant.
Putting it all together, the logical conclusion is the following: Looking at what rich people have today, you can forecast that you will continue to be a servant in the near future.
Marx would agree and Parmenides would be proud.
Knock, knock. Still there?