consumer technology transitions

In a sample of 275 U.S. public library systems in 2005, the circulation of audio books recorded on cassette tape was 1.3 times the circulation of audio books recorded on CDs.[1] As late as 2005, many audio book borrowers apparently owned audio cassette players. For music albums, the last year that cassette tape sales exceeded CD sales was 1991.[2]

In 2006, the ratio of DVD rentals to video cassette rentals was 115 to 1.  At the same time, 86% of TV households had a DVD player, and 84% had a VCR.[3]

Many persons apparently keep media technology long after new technology has superseded it. That’s not a good omen for the U.S. digital television (DTV) transition.


[1] Calculated from data in Molyneux, Robert E. (2007) “Transitions: Library Circulation and Digital Formats,” in The Bowker Annual 2007: Library and Book Trade Almanac, pp.402-6.

[2] See data in 2000 10-year Music Consumer Trends Chart, RIAA 2000 Consumer Profile.

[3] See U.S. Entertainment Industry: 2006 Market Statistics, pp. 27-28.

6 thoughts on “consumer technology transitions”

  1. Or, maybe consumers are traveling backwards, as did the Topiary Cow—when her third DVD of the year crapped out, in disgust she got the old, reliable VCR out of the closet and hooked it back up.

    Cow would like to see some research on how quick the new technologies break compared to the old technologies.

    Not to mention, videotapes were universally playable on any VCR, whereas, there’s DVD-R, DVD+R, mpegs, different region encodings, etc.


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