Sophisticated surfers still rare, says study

The survey, which polled 2500 consumers in the US, the UK, France, Germany and Australia, or approximately 500 adults in each country, found that while downloading music was considered to be fairly easy to accomplish, only about one-third to one-quarter of respondents are doing it. Music downloads are most popular in France, where 30 per cent of respondents access music digitally. Germany and Australia were close behind at 25 per cent, followed by the US with 24 per cent.

Still, about half of all respondents said they saw no reason to delve into digital music via the Web. And of those who do access music online, US respondents led the pack howling for free stuff when asked if they would stop downloading music if fees were associated with those downloads. Seventy-five per cent said they would no longer download music if they had to pay for it.

Downloading streaming videos or short films online is even less popular with those polled. France had the highest percentage of Internet users downloading videos, with 16 per cent. Germany was second with 12 per cent, followed by the UK and the US at 11 per cent each. Almost half of the respondents simply had no interest in downloading videos.

Germany was revealed to be the definitive broadband leader, with 38 per cent of respondents using Integrated Services Digital Network, or ISDN, for their home broadband connectivity. Other countries are lagging far behind with broadband access. So far, only 3 per cent of Australian homes, 13 per cent of UK homes and 15 per cent of US households have some form of broadband connection. The expense of broadband connectivity is the main reason for slow adoption -- most consider cheaper dialup modems to be sufficient.

The usage rates for digital television also are relatively low and are expected to continue to grow slowly, the study found. The UK has the highest percentage of digital TV users, at 22 per cent, followed by the US with 14 per cent. As with broadband access, most respondents cited the cost of digital TV and lack of perceived need as the main reasons they haven't adopted the technology.

Finally, the study found that the Internet takes up time many people would otherwise devote to television. Respondents cited surfing the Internet as the main reason for not watching TV as often. The reported decline was most apparent in the UK and the US, where 37 per cent and 27 per cent of respondents said the Internet had taken time away from TV watching, respectively. In Germany, however, the opposite held true, with 38 per cent of respondents saying they would rather read books, magazines or newspapers when not online. Only 18 per cent of Germans cited TV as a replacement for the Internet.

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