A recent HP survey looking at the media consumption patterns and habits of Britons found that while we assume the digital download is now the de facto standard, the majority of consumers still have affection for the physical format, attributing more value to the CD or DVD than to an MP3 or JPEG.
Surveying more than 1,000 British consumers ages between 16 and 60, the HP survey found that although 8pc of the population access some form of digital media, 68pc admitted that they prefer photographs printed on paper than looking at digital versions on screen.
About piracy rates
In a related result, 64pc preferred a CD to have and to hold, while 75pc liked the idea of a DVD or Blu-ray disc over a downloaded movie, which might explain from a psychological perspective the behaviour behind high piracy rates: people do not value digital downloads and therefore do not associate the downloading of copyright material from BitTorrenting or P2P sites as illegal in the same way that they would the theft of a physical CD or DVD.
So while the 16-24 and 25-34 age groups are the biggest demographic for purchasing digital media, 39pc of them are still buying CDs and DVDs alongside digital downloads.
Interestingly, although the iPad is being marketed as an e-book reader amongst other things and while the Sony Reader and Kindle continue to sell well, a massive 95pc of those surveyed would prefer to own a physical book than to download one.
Even further down the line is the adoption of subscription-based models of digital media: 73pc of those surveyed said they could never envision the move to a 100pc subscription model for their music and films on services like Spotify.
"In this technologically driven age, it is easy to get carried away and think that everybody is embracing digital and leaving physical behind," says Shaun Hobbs, home server manager for HP PSG Ireland and the UK.
"Our survey shows that this isn’t the case. Britons are on an evolutionary journey with media still being bought on multiple formats and enjoyed using a variety of devices."
The attitude towards the storage and estimated worth of our digital media collections cements even more how we view property and ownership in a bits versus atoms world.
Seventy-one percent of the survey participants say they have never lost their media library and are not bothered about security while 27pc value their entire collection of digital at less the UK£50, when it is probable that they would price the value of their book, CD and DVD collection at considerably higher for the same content although in physical form.
"We’re not yet ready to give up the old ways of purchasing media. However, the survey shows that the benefits of being able to access and enjoy a much broader range of content thanks to the internet are also clearly appreciated," added Hobbs.
"It’s a safe bet to assume attitudes will change to favour digital over physical but at present, we’re happy to have both."
By Marie Boran
Photo: ‘CD’ courtesy of Declan Jewell via Flickr under the Creative Commons license (some rights reserved)