Brits back internet over cars

The average Briton would rather have access to the internet than a car or washing machine, according to a new survey.

The research, from technology company AMD, looked into British notebook usage and connectivity, and found that getting online for many has become essential, in particular for 'Generation Y', with 90% of 18-24 year olds owning a notebook and 73% going so far as to say they 'couldn't live without' it.

In addition, Britons consider access to the Internet (67%) as more important than access to a car (54%) or a washing machine (58%).

Perhaps reflecting the 'always-on' lifestyle of British citizens today, more respondents want to shop online (56%), than socialise with friends (49%) or shop on the high street (54%) this Christmas.

Constantly-connected Brits seem to be shunning face-to-face socialising in favour of social networking and catching up with TV online, as almost half (41%) of men enjoy watching BBC iPlayer on their notebooks, uploading digital photos (80%) and instant messaging (57%).

Does this mean the decline of human interaction?

Conducted by independent international research company YouGov, and commissioned by AMD (NYSE: AMD), a global provider of innovative processing solutions in the computing and graphics markets, the survey found that Britons' favourite activity is social networking, with 57% regularly logging on.

Whether they are video creators or film fans, the digital lifestyle of British consumers has accelerated beyond merely viewing photos, with three quarters of respondents (75%) claiming to watch videos on YouTube.

"Although we'd like to think we're a nation who value personal relationships, AMD's research shows that Britons behavioural patterns are shifting to favour technology over face-to-face interaction. The UK population is choosing to exploit technologies such as the internet as a form of entertainment and as a way of nurturing friendships online rather than socialising in person. This change in behaviour shows that people are taking advantage of new technologies to adapt to their busy lifestyles," said Dr Sally Ann Law, life coach.

The survey found that men appear to crave content as they are much more likely to download music (71% men v 62% women), whereas women are more interested in chatting with their friends and family on Instant Messenger (75% v 72% of men).

What would Britons most like from their technology?

The variety of activities that consumers are carrying out on their notebook and desktops PCs mean that people are expecting choice based on a variety of performance factors.

As belts tighten in times of economic uncertainty, Britons are expecting high performance but for a good price as 85% said that cost was the most important feature influencing purchase decisions. As a consequence, performance expectations are high with consumers looking for The Ultimate Visual Experience™ for HD entertainment from games, videos and photos.

In fact Verdict Research, which publishes studies on the retail industry, supports this analysis as they have recently predicted that the video games market would grow by 1.37 billion pounds or 42 percent in 2008, outstripping music and video sales, and highlighting the popularity of games even during times of economic downturn. (Source: Verdict Research Video Games & Consoles Retailing 2008)

Future Purchase Requirements

The survey found that being a nation of multi-tasking 'Switched-On Surfers' (SOSers), when it comes to purchasing new notebooks, men are seeking a powerful HD visual experience with powerful graphics. Almost half of men fall into the 'visualites' category with 49% compared to 32% of women rating graphics as the most important factor when making a notebook purchase decision.

Women surveyed fall into the 'Mobilites' category, as portability seems to be a more important buying factor - almost half (46%) voted weight as one of the important factors, compared to just 39% of men.

"What comes across clearly from this survey is that consumer usage models have advanced and consumers now really look to choose a notebook that suits their lifestyle. That, coupled with the credit crunch, means that Britons are choosing to have one device for all purposes.

Ian McNaughton senior manager of product and platform marketing EMEA at AMD, said: "The PC now functions as the central entertainment centre. Busier than ever before, Britons are keen to save time and are multitasking at home, at work and at play.

"As performance and computer processing accelerates, society can expect to see a fusion of quality multimedia HD content and connectivity. The results of the survey show that AMD has chosen the right strategy so far and that, as technology develops, it is ready to continue to deliver The Ultimate Visual Experience for HD and high performance to its customers."

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