Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Listening to Tunes on a PC is “Good Enough” for 86% of U.S. Consumers

The younger generation X and Y consumer has grown up in a world where the best audio sound emits from a tiny device called an iPod. Many are unaware of what most of my colleagues know to be true “high-fidelity” sound. Now, a study conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has discovered that more and more U.S. adults are looking to their home computers as a preferred source for music playback, rather than a dedicated CD or DVD player.

The study reports that an estimated 86 per cent of U.S. adults are content with using their computer as a source for listening to tunes. However, there is still hope for audiophiles: one-third said they would appreciate nicer sound; while 47 per cent said that they’d even choose a better audio experience over having more tunes at their fingertips. Yet only nine per cent of home audio PC users actually connect their PC to a home audio system.

So why is it that, even though U.S. adults admit to appreciating good sound, they still prefer to listen to tunes on the PC? It could be that much of the content originates from digital files downloaded from the 'net; or from Internet streaming music sites, like Yahoo!'s Launchcast, or satellite radio providers like XM. Maybe they just don't know how to get it off the PC, and have settled for the easiest solution.

What does this mean? There needs to be more consumer awareness and education around music streaming devices like Slim Devices' Squeezebox or Sonos' Digital Music System, which make the process of getting music from the PC to a home audio system fairly easy.

Back to the study, another interesting stat is that, when it comes to frequency, 77 per cent of respondents said they listen to tunes on their PC an average of nine hours per week.

I'm no math whiz, but I can see that there's a huge, untapped market out there for consumers who want to listen to their digital files throughout the home, but simply don't know how, or couldn't be bothered to find out. The PC might be good enough for many, but connecting it to an audio system will open up the younger (and older) generation to possibilities they may not have realized were there.

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