The ECJ recently raised the question: is Uber a transport company or a digital service? Apart from the legal and regulatory consequences, the question is interesting on a conceptual level.
Having a side job in the vacation home business, we have some thoughts to share.
At first sight, these companies appear to be genuine internet companies. Booking & customer support, advertising & marketing, administration & accounting support - all goes through the internet, after all. However, as all of the economy is moving onto the internet, every company would soon appear to be a 'digital' service.
I would propose that Uber, Airbnb and my vacation home are, at heart, still 'analogue' services: taxi and home rental.
Media are an interesting sector since the heart of the business is immaterial. Or, from a different perspective: there is little to distinguish the service from the distribution. We have come to see a book, a track and a film as a file, rather than as a story in words, a piece of music or a story in sound and audio.
More 'packetisation' needs to be done before Uber and Airbnb can be seen as internet services. For Uber, it will take something to the order of teleportation. For Airbnb the future may be closer than it seems. VR is just around the corner.