Tech shoppers ditch desktop PCs and DVD players

19 December 2018

Brits are ditching DVD players and desktop PCs and are increasingly turning to newer technology such as smart TVs and smart watches, Ofcom research has found.

Shoppers in the UK spend billions of pounds this time of year, and much of that is spent buying tech online. So, Ofcom has crunched the numbers on which tech devices people have been buying in recent years, and which ones they’re getting rid of.

Smart shoppers

Ownership of digital devices such as smart TVs, smart watches and smartphones has grown significantly in recent years, as more people need a constant connection to the internet - internet users say they spend an average of 24 hours a week online.

By contrast, MP3 players, DVD players and desktop computers seem to be falling out of favour as smartphone use continues to grow, particularly for browsing and streaming.

Meanwhile, the popularity of tablets and e-readers seems to have peaked. Ownership of both is significantly higher than it was seven years ago, but has levelled out in the last few years.

Ofcom now measures ownership of smart speakers (owned by 13% of households) and virtual reality (VR) headsets (5%). The first VR headset went on sale in the UK in 2015 – a year earlier than smart speakers, which have been quicker to capture the imagination of tech shoppers.

Other emerging trends include wearable tech, such as smart watches and fitness trackers. One in five households now owns these devices, and ownership has been doubling every year since 2016.

All findings are from Ofcom's Communications Market Report 2018.

Ian Macrae, Ofcom’s Director of Market Intelligence, said: “As technology evolves and transforms how we live our lives, the devices we rely on are constantly changing.

“The growth in popularity of streaming services has created tremendous demand for connected TVs, which for many people are replacing DVD players, and the smartphone is replacing several other devices at once.

“The range of connected devices is expanding rapidly. Smart speakers really took off last year and along with other smart home devices will again be ones to watch this year.”

Seven in ten people shop online

Ecommerce has transformed the way we shop. Our research shows that seven in ten adults now shop online, with around half of all internet users doing more of their shopping this way. Two in five adults use their mobile to shop online, and a quarter do so during their commute.

Shoppers still prefer to get their purchases delivered rather than collecting them, with fewer than half of people using a ‘click and collect’ service, and only one in five people collecting something from a parcel locker.

Most people (58%) choose next-day delivery rather than paying for same-day delivery (28%). An even smaller proportion of consumers (just 10%) buy something online and have it delivered within two hours.

Data showing the changes in ownership of digital devices in the UK over a period of 10 years