The 2008 Digital Atlas of Australia
Did you know that digital TV is more popular in Tasmania than any other State? That the ACT has the highest proportion of home computers? Or that flat panel TVs are least likely to be found on the north coast of NSW?
Did you know that just over a million Australian households will move to digital TV in 2008, but only 150,000 more will subscribe to pay TV? Or that Inner Sydney has the highest proportion of households moving to pay TV?
Or that 60% of Australian households now have broadband and 70% will have it by the end of the year?
This data comes from a new report, The Australian Digital Atlas, which uses extensive consumer research, overlaid on national census data, to paint a detailed picture of Australians’ use and ownership of consumer digital technology.
It takes data from the Connection Research Connected Home surveys, which ask thousands of Australian consumers about their household’s use of technology. This is married that to extensive demographic analysis by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in its five-yearly census, most recently conducted in 2006.
The Australian Digital Atlas analyses technology use for 11 electronic device types (eg: PCs, TVs, games consoles, mobile phones) and four household connectivity technologies (broadband and dial-up Internet, pay TV and digital TV).
It takes the average number of devices in each household, and the proportion of households with the device or the technology in use.
The analysis is broken down by Australia’s 65 statistical regions, the ABS geographical measures most closely aligned with population.
This regional analysis provides a unique insight into household technology use in Australia, to a degree not previously possible. The numbers vary by location, depending on levels of use and demographic factors such as the adult/child ratio and household income levels.
Nearly half (49.63%) of Australian homes have digital free-to-air TV, and 28.32% have pay TV. Both technologies are more likely to be found in affluent areas, but other factors are equally important.
Tasmania is a big user of digital TV, for example, because that State has been used as a pilot for digital-only transmissions. The Northern Territory has the highest proportion of pay TV users, because of the relatively limited scope of free-to-air in that region.
Seven of the top 10 regions for pay TV are in suburban Sydney, indicating the greater success of the service in that city than in other capitals. The lowest penetration, with only 14.52% of households, is in Northern NSW.
The proportion of households with digital TV will grow in 2008, with 14.59% of households adopting the technology.
Australia is going broadband. Well over half (59.35%) of homes are on broadband, and 15.61% are on dial-up Internet. Broadband numbers will grow in 2008, largely at the expense of dial-up – the respective forecasts for the end of 2008 are 69.57% and 7.75%.
More than two-thirds (67.81%) of Australian homes have a desktop PC, and 40.66% have a laptop. Many homes have both, and 75.80% have at least one PC of either type.
Laptops are most likely to be found in wealthier suburban areas (half of the top 10 are in northern and eastern Sydney), whereas desktops are more popular in the bush.
The ACT has the highest proportion of homes with a computer (86.36%), consistent with it having the highest proportion on broadband. But, as with Internet connection, high PC ownership is not necessarily an urban phenomenon – the second-highest penetration is in outback WA.
Despite the saturation of mobile phones, nearly seven million more will be purchased in 2008. The figure is close to half the number now in household use, indicating that the average life of a mobile handset in Australia is a little over two years.
Well over half (60.90%) of households own at least one portable media player. But there is an average number per household of 1.12, indicating that most households in this category have multiple devices. The highest ownership rates are in the inner-city regions.
Nearly two million more will be purchased by Australian households in 2008, split between households that already have one and those acquiring them for the first time.
The average ownership of TVs is 1.72 cathode ray tube (CRT) units and 0.35 flat panels. CRTs are often not discarded when flat panels are purchased – they typically find their way into other parts of the house, like children’s bedrooms.
There are well over two million flat panel TVs in Australian homes, from a standing start just a few years ago.
High growth rates will continue, with well over a million shipping in 2008 and the proportion of homes with at least one device will exceed 40% by the end of the year.
Flat panel TVs are most likely to be found in wealthier areas – the top five regions are in the northern and eastern suburbs of Sydney, and in the ACT.
DVD players, once expensive, are now so cheap that their use is almost universal – they are found in 86.75% of households. With an average number per household of 1.34, that means many households have two or more.
DVD recorders are not nearly so widespread. Only 25.09% of households have one, and few have multiple devices. Another 400,000 will be purchased by Australian households in 2008, pushing ownership numbers up to about 30% of households.
The games console market in Australia has grown substantially in recent years with the release of new models from all the main players.
Nearly half (45.33%) of Australian homes now own at least one console, and the average of 0.73 per household means that ownership of multiple consoles is common. The highest penetration is in the Northern Territory, and in the outer suburbs of Sydney and Brisbane.
Over a million more consoles with be purchased by Australian households in 2008, with inner city households buying a slightly higher proportion. Games consoles are not just for kids; they are increasingly used by urban sophisticates.
In a few years digital cameras have moved from expensive oddity to mainstream device – 85.77% of Australian homes own at least one of them and many own two or more. Ownership is widely spread and not dictated by income levels or geography.
And, like mobile phones, digital cameras continue to be replaced, with more than two million more going into Australian homes in 2008.
Digital camcorders are a more expensive item but are still found in 30.81% of Australian homes. Ownership of multiple devices is not common.
One of the highest ownership rates is in Fairfield-Liverpool in western Sydney, a region with a high proportion of recent immigrants.