A recent consumer study commissioned by Western Digital Corp. and conducted by research firm Vanson Bourne found that having to choose which photo or video to delete to free up storage space, and then regretting doing so, is a bona fide #firstworldproblem.

The study, from a survey of 5,000 consumers across the UK, France, Germany and the United States, analyzes how people create, consume, share and store digital content. Key findings include:

  • Over 76 percent of respondents aged 16 to 24 delete content to makespace…and then regret it
  • The era of digital media has arrived, and the end of the CD is near
  • Streaming of feature films or TV shows is not taking over from digital ownership today
  • One in four say their digital content is ‘priceless’, while the rest place the average value at approximately $5,500 USD

Sacrificing Content

Despite one in four saying their digital content is ‘priceless’, sacrificing a picture or video is a regular occurrence. Of those that took the survey:

  • Nearly one fifth (19 percent) of consumers have deleted a photo or video to make room on their device, and regretted this all of the time
  • This figure is over one quarter (27 percent) when looking at a younger group of 16 to 24 year olds
  • Similarly, 31 percent of the 16 to 24 age group say that they run out of space on their smartphones on a weekly basis while 17 percent say this is a problem on a daily basis

Running out of storage space isn’t the greatest challenge threatening mankind at the moment, but it’s certainly an annoyance for a great many consumers,” said Jim Welsh, executive vice president and general manager of Content Solutions at WD. “Our findings clearly show that consumers are sacrificing precious memories and valuable content to make more space on their devices.

Physical Ownership vs. Digital Ownership

One reason for the daily deletion of content could be the preference of digital forms of media over physical forms of media.

Of the respondents, 48 percent prefer digital versions of music albums compared to 25 percent preferring the hard copy.

  • The same goes for films with 41 percent of respondents preferring a digital copy versus 29 percent for DVD
  • While streaming is becoming popular, today it’s not winning the battle over ownership, as for those who prefer digital versions for watching feature films, 48 percent prefer digital ownership to 29 percent preferring streaming

With an average of five music albums, five feature films and five television shows being downloaded each week by the consumers in the study, it’s clear a huge amount of digital media is being consumed.

Our study shows that 73 percent of consumers still buy technology based on price compared to only 37 percent buy based on features, and we believe this is true for external storage,” said Welsh. “However, as consumers continue to be leading more digital lifestyles and are forced to choose between which files to keep or delete, we believe consumers will look for external storage solutions that bring more value with features that help them store, share and backup their digital content from mobile devices and computers.

Storage Needs

  • The findings support the notion that there is a disconnect among the majority of consumers over how much digital content they consume and create and how much storage they own and need.
  • Of those who have personal storage only one in four respondents have external storage of 1 TB or more
  • Yet, 46 percent have 64 GB or less as their total storage or back-up capacity on the device they use as their primary means of storing content

Clearly, attitudes towards storage purchasing have not yet caught up with appetites for digital content,” Welsh added. “It’s incumbent on companies like Western Digital to demonstrate to consumers how products like wireless hard drives, network attached storage and personal clouds can help them quickly and easily manage their digital lives and ensure they never have to delete a precious memory again. We say to consumers, ‘keep it coming!’

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