Digital home creating support headaches

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Analysts have highlighted a downside of the much vaunted 'digital home' in that few home owners are able to understand, let alone support, their new purchases..

IDC noted that the expansion of technology in the home has been accompanied by "installation and troubleshooting problems".

To help consumers overcome these challenges, the analyst firm believes that a new generation of tech support services is rising up that uses the internet to provide assistance remotely and directly.

"Technology has become more deeply entwined in consumers' lives while consumer support options have remained limited and often unsatisfying," said Matt Healey, research manager for software and hardware support services at IDC.

"However, we are quickly reaching the point where certain devices and applications are considered 'mission critical' in the home.

"This means that more consumers will require, and be willing to pay for, a higher level of support to ensure smooth operations at home."

A recent IDC analysis of more than 10,000 consumer support sessions captured by support service provider PlumChoice found that PC software and operating system problems represent 41 per cent of the support sessions.

Security problems, particularly issues associated with viruses, spyware and malware, were the second most common session type representing 23 per cent of the sessions.

Despite the high number of security related sessions, 82 per cent of consumers indicated that they had security software installed, suggesting that consumers are not regularly updating software to meet new threats.

Other categories where consumer support is regularly needed include PC performance issues, networking, PC hardware and peripherals that connect to the PC or network.

"IDC believes that the market for consumer support services will continue to expand as better options become available to consumers and as the costs of providing these services continues to decline," added Healey.

"The service providers that will succeed in this market will invest in remote support services and develop support capabilities that extend beyond the PC."
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