It’s no surprise technology has changed over the past 10 years. Heck, it’s no surprise that technology has changed over the past two years!  There’s always something new and exciting replacing something we previously thought was new and exciting. So how has recurring billing changed?

Obviously the technology has changed (the recent influx of billing apps lately should prove that) but more so, the things we now bill for are much different. Let’s take a look at the past ten years to see just how things have changed:

Music

2001: Home Delivery Clubs

Anyone who grew up in the 90’s remembers these. You got 20 free CDs and then had to order at least one per month to stay in the club. While 2001 was surely the end of the home-delivery music subscription service, it was fun while it lasted.

2011: Internet Radio

Pandora, Grooveshark, Last.fm. These internet radio apps are the new music subscription services. Listen to whatever you want on your computer or your Smartphone for minimal cost or even for free!

Newspapers

2001:  The Newspaper on your Doorstep

You wake up, walk out to the paperbox, go back inside, have a cup of coffee and see what happened in the world. Not only did you have a physical bill to pay, you also had a paperboy to pay it to. While the physical newspaper isn’t completely dead, it’s certainly not as popular as it once was.

2011: The Newspaper on your iPad

As of last month, Apple began allowing subscription-based apps to be sold in the app store. This is a really big deal for magazines and newspapers who are still trying to figure out how to make money online.

Rental Cars

2001:  Gold Clubs

Travel for business a lot? Rent cars often? Companies including Hertz created clubs like their Hertz #1 Gold Club. Pay an annual membership fee and get benefits like upfront parking, car upgrades and awards points. You still have to pay the usual rental fees, insurance and gas.

2011:  ZipCar

ZipCar came on the scene in the early 2000’s with a new idea for rental cars, by the hour. You pay a yearly subscription fee of $50-$60 and you can rent a car by the hour or by the day. Plus, you get your gas and insurance paid for.  While ZipCar has in fact been around for a few years, it has now expanded to 50+ cities, Canada and London. 

Phone

2001: :  Phone Company/Cell Phone

Each month, you got your phone bill from your local phone provider and/or even your cell phone carrier and that was that. There were not a ton of other options.

2011:  Skype/Grasshopper

While companies like Vonage began coming on the scene in the early 2000’s, phone usage and billing has completely changed over the past ten years. Now you have companies like Skype offering free VOIP service or even subscriptions to call outside phones. Toll free numbers? You used to have to go through the phone company. Now you can use a virtual service like Grasshopper.

Billing technology has certainly changed over the past decade but it has for a reason; the things we bill for are different so it needed to evolve.  What other subscription billing type services can you think of that are different in 2011?