Digital vs Physical – Why Pay More?


For a couple of weeks now I’ve known that one day I might wake up to a very bad day – you know the day when you turn on your PC and it simply just won’t boot? Well today’s that day. I had an inkling that it was getting close so I ordered a shiny new Samsung F3 hard drive and purchased some duplication software to tackle the task. I was all prepared yesterday to do it today and bang – this morning the system will only boot to the recovery partition and won’t repair the system! DAMN!

Anyway, luckily for me I have a Mac laptop (not without problems either, the keyboard and trackpad stop working occasionally so if anyone knows a fix drop me a line!) and while looking through my emails this morning I had a lovely colourful email from for the closing days of their sale…

Off I trotted to their site to look at some CD‘s and something sprung to mind…. Here on Play I can buy a CD of La Roux for £3.99 – so nice a cheap! So I headed off to iTunes and looked at the same artist’s album…. £4.99 – hold on, the digital copy where I get no packaging, no printed booklet, am unable to place on display and look at with pride (well not sure about that with the artist) and am unable to put on whatever device I want let alone lone it to my friends, costs me more….!!!

Clearly managed to get better colour here!

Think about what goes into the production of that physical copy; a complete pre-media process and manufacturing process has to happen in order to produce it. Whereas the digital version; OK it has some digital workflow involved but essentially the actual manufacturing process no longer exists, so why is it more expensive? In-fact if you look at you even get free shipping, so cash off of their profit for this physical product, digitally they still have to pay for delivery over their internet bandwidth, a fixed cost that they already can calculate into their business model….

So why?

What’s gone wrong?

Pre-media companies have been beaten to within inches of their existence on the price of producing the artwork for print, the printers have had the rug pulled from beneath their profit line to print them and the replicators don’t know where to look to sustain their businesses. Yet the digital providors are sitting pretty, still able to drive their Bentley’s and Porsche’s.

All seems a bit backwards to me.

Author: Gary George

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

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2 Responses to “Digital vs Physical – Why Pay More?”

  1. whileiburst Says:

    I wonder if this is a problem more centralized to Europe? In the United States it’s usually the other way around. An album on iTunes might run about $9.99, where it could be anywhere from $9.99 to $22.99 for a physical copy. I suspect part of the problem would be that people are willing to go to great lengths to remain lazy. Why pay 3 Euro for something you can pay 4 Euro for and have right away?

    You are correct though… something is definitely backwards.

    • tele2002 Says:

      Hi Whileiburst, glad that the US hasn’t reached the point of killing off the physical supply chain yet, maybe the suppliers here are all just trying to out-do each other for the work that has driven the prices so low.

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