Quite a surprise when I walked into the large Dussmann – Das Kulturkaufhaus store in Friedrichstrasse, Berlin, and saw no less than three floors of good, old-fashioned discs – CDs, DVDs, some Blu-Rays, and even a whole section of vinyl.
While all the Virgin Megastores, Tower Records and similar shops have disappeared, and the old HMVs now sell more merchandise, physical carriers seem very much alive in Germany. Large sections of discs in the local Media Markt and Saturn shops offer a similar picture.
Earlier that day, I attended the Bitkom press conference, where chairman Achim Berg called for the establishment of a digital state minister at the Chancellor’s Office, and welcomed the goal of rolling out Gigabit internet nationwide by 2025. Could it be that the slow rolling out of nationwide internet has something to do with that there are still plenty of discs around…?
The question now is, of course, how long will this last? According to Bitkom’s figures, sales in the consumer electronics segment are now declining again following a 2.6% increase in the previous year.
According to the forecast, the market will shrink by 1.9% to EUR9.3 billion. Business with flat-screen televisions (+1.9%) and home audio (+0.8%) continued to develop positively. On the other hand, sales of games consoles are declining again (-3.5%) following the recent strong growth.
These figures are of hardware sales rather than discs, but they paint a picture that German consumers will also turn to digital. If Bitkom has its say, the development will be accelerated.
In the coalition agreement between the CDU/CSU and the SPD, digitisation has a stronger position than would have been expected after the explorations.
Berg commented: “I am pleased that the Digital Pact for Education is to be implemented, that the necessary resources are to be made available and that the ban on cooperation is to be abolished. The goal of rolling out Gigabit Internet nationwide by 2025 is also welcomed.
“The digitisation of administration and public services should be driven even more strongly by the CDU/CSU and the SPD, and all requirements for written form in dealing with authorities should be abolished. Citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany should be given the right to deal with all administrative matters online. No one should be forced to go into an office anymore,” said Berg.
In addition, the coalition agreement would lack a consistent data policy. Berg:”We need a good balance between protecting the privacy of each individual and new, data-driven services ranging from autonomous driving to individual medicine.”