Transitioning from the physical to the virtual consumer… and we barely noticed!


Ever wondered how things change so dramatically yet we almost don’t notice it happening? Technology is one of those things! Take for example our smartphones, in my case my beloved iPhone, whatever we want to do “there’s an app for that”. Remember not that long ago when a phone was a… phone?

And what about music? Buying an album or god forbid, a single, is now almost a thing of the past. Some of the younger generation today have never purchased music in a physical form. Much to the misfortune of high street retailers such as HMV.

The same thing is happening to video…. Sorry! DVD… Sorry! Blueray…or whatever the latest flavour of the month is… similar to music this is now rapidly moving towards being completely digitised. How many of you are still members of good old-fashioned rental stores such as the rapidly diminishing Blockbuster? I am, and I must admit I will be rather sad when the inevitable time comes when the last remaining blockbuster store within a vaguely reachable distance closes it’s doors (we are already traveling quite some distance after our local store closed, and then the second most local, and we are now onto our third not-so-local store!). However, we are clearly behind the times. Even my Mum thinks so, having long since made the switch to online rentals… like the majority of the population. But to me there is something nice about actually going to the store and picking your film… and of course, you can’t pick up a bag of toffee popcorn if you rent online… Although give them time and I’m sure anything is possible!

Changes can also be seen in the world of printed media. Take for example, newspapers – readership for printed papers is rapidly diminishing as more and more readers migrate to digital formats, opting to access their newspaper via a website or a digital subscription. I expect magazines are heading the same way. Not to mention the growing popularity of e-books over traditional printed editions. Nowadays instead of packing half the suitcase with books, travelers simply pack their kindle and take their whole library on holiday with them!

But what about shopping? Now this is an odd one. For food shopping or buying small inexpensive goods, consumers may be happy to shop solely online. However what about for expensive items? Well, have you ever went to a store to try a product only to then leave and purchase it online where it’s often substantially less expensive? When it comes to expensive items, we don’t want to take the chance that the item may be unsuitable, especially if it would be difficult to return, but we still want the savings that online shopping offers. I wonder what impact this is having on the retailers?

As with most changes, modern technology brings it’s positives and negatives. The negatives have been briefly mentioned here, including the impact on retailers… and the lack of toffee popcorn with your movie.

However, these technologies bring one major advantage…


After all, how much easier is it to do your weekly shop, choose your film of choice, download the latest album and buy your outfit for the weekend all from the comfort of your sofa? Not only that, but media downloads and streaming make obtaining material instantaneous. On that note, I wonder if we are being conditioned to become a society based on instant gratification? Nowadays, you can hear a song on the radio (or should I say via a radio app) decide you want it, soundhound it and buy it… all before the next song! It doesn’t get much more instant than that! Compare this to only a decade ago, when if you heard a song you liked on the radio – you had to hope you hadn’t missed the DJ announcing the artist’s name, remember the details and travel to a record store (remember those?) to buy it… In short, you had to really want it!

Does this easy obtainability influence the value we place upon some media? Are movies, music and books now at risk of becoming disposable? Years into the future, will that One Direction MP3 be as treasured and as valued as the Beetles’ vinyl is today?

And don’t even get me started on torrent downloads…

So do we fight or embrace these technological changes? I will leave that up to you… as I finish typing this blog from my iPad… Remember when we had to use a desktop computer? πŸ˜‰



Image courtesy of PixomarΒ  /


12 responses to “Transitioning from the physical to the virtual consumer… and we barely noticed!

  1. Hello! For years I wouldn’t migrate over to digital photography as I loved the feeling of putting my films in to get developed and picking them up only to see what funny photos were taken, that’s now been lost when you view the photos immediately and delete if you don’t like. I still like to buy clothes in shops rather than online but with technology we all end up using it even if we weren’t so sure to begin with. I would hate to see the day when stores are only for going in to order online and get items delivered to them like my local House of Frasers!

    • Hi Camilla,

      It’s funny you should say that as today’s blog is all about digital photography! Your comment is an interesting take on things, in my blog I have not considered the waiting for the development and the collection of the photos to be a positive thing. It just goes to show that there are two sides to every story πŸ™‚

      Please feel free to have a read:

      Like you, I also prefer to shop for clothes in the ‘real world’. It’s just too inconvenient when you need to return items purchased online that don’t fit etc!

  2. There really is only one thing you can do… GO with the changes..Otherwise you just get held back..and you ‘miss out’ on special offers etc I remember when I had a Nokia 3101 it would last 7 days on one charge.. NO SMS just calls with a battery bigger than the Iphone… Now the latest smartphone lasts on average 6 hours on a full charge… if only the big wigs could fix that one.

    • Yes, battery life can leave a little to be desired. Especially if you are taking advantage of all the different functions that modern day smartphones offer!

      Interesting and valid point about being ‘left behind’ or ‘missing out’ without a smartphone – this is very true! Many stores etc now have offers that are only available via their ‘app’.

      Although I do love my smartphone and I’m a bit of a gadget lover (no surprise there given the nature of my blog!) so I’m not complaining that much πŸ˜‰

  3. We can go with the changes, but a word of warning. Having physical objects (books, photos, etc.) activates the creative centers of your brain. None of the digital things does that. We are raising an entire generation with no stimulation for creativity, especially since so many art programs are being taken out of schools.

    So, yes, it’s convenient, but there’s a price. It won’t really be seen for another 20-30 years, but there is a definite “dumbing” down going on, and it’s only going to get worse the more digital we become.

    • Interesting comments Amethyst. Although I would argue that perhaps creativity is not disappearing but rather is simply taking a different form? Lots of the technology today can spur creativity – blogging for example πŸ˜‰

      I’d be genuinely interested to hear of any articles or papers you may have come across regarding the ‘dumbing down’ of school programmes or the ‘dumbing down’ effect of modern technology. I’d be interested to read both sides of the ‘argument’.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts πŸ™‚

  4. I sometimes wonder if the advent of online shopping (and thus price searching) will decrease the price of brick and mortar stores. I can (and do) go to my local running shop, try on shoes, then search online for them to check the shop’s price to see if they’re competitive. Obviously we have to add in shipping costs too, but I think one thing that keeps people going back to shops is the “now” factor – I want that item now. And while digital books etc. are nice, I think (I hope) that there will always be people who want to hold and touch and feel and love their paper books.

    • I must admit, I do like a good old fashioned ‘paper’ book πŸ˜‰

      Like you, I don’t think stores will phase out completely. I hope not. Sometimes you really can’t beat being able to see/touch/try the item before you buy. I also went to the store to try my running shoes and then purchased from a different store after doing a price comparison online (afterall, they’re not exactly an inexpensive purchase)!

      I expect that online competition does indeed reduce high-street store prices to some degree, although as you have already identified, this is offset by the advantage that stores have over online retailers – the ability to provide you with the item immediately!

  5. Ha great post. I think we have to embrace it to a point. I think technology is starting to take over and we’re forgetting how to be human beings and interact.

    ps – I remember when a phone is a phone but remember when we didn’t have mobile phones at all or worse – remember when there was NO GOOGLE- don’t ever wanna go back to that!

    • No google – eek! Hard to imagine now, isn’t it?!

      To be honest, I quite like my phone not being a phone… as mad as that sounds! If you’ve read my previous telephobia post you will already know why πŸ˜‰

  6. Pingback: Is social media the new family photo album? | The Cyber Psyche·

  7. I love the world of technology, as much as I love the non-technology world. I still visit my local library at least once a month, as the movies and books are free. I’m hopeful that libraries will be around forever, probably in the same manner you love your Blockbuster. I have no Blockbuster within an hours drive, as they’ve all closed. I would say 50% of my movies are digital, as it’s convenient and takes up virtually no space (unless you count digital space).

    It’s funny that you mention a desktop, as my boyfriend has one. He’s very techy, and he still prefers the desktop over the laptop, along with his 3 monitors for optimal gaming.

    Technology takes us places we’re never been before. I can talk to someone on the other side of the world, for free. I can see pictures of anyplace I can think of. I can easily learn any language I want.

    It’s a wonderful world to live in right now.

    Thank you for another wonderful post Dawn.

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