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Home Networking Application Support Growth

The growing popularity and increasing complexity of home networks will spur a doubling of fee-based home network support service subscriptions in North America in 2007, according to a new market study by In-Stat.

Home networks are still primarily set up by "tech-savvy" consumers for themselves, their family, and their friends. However, consumer electronics retailers and broadband service providers are also offering home network support services, the high-tech market research firm says.

"As the number of nodes on a home network grows, the support headaches tend to increase, and even the tech-savvy guru in the household reaches a point where they no longer want to provide all the support for their friends and extended families," says Joyce Putscher, In-Stat analyst. "Another driver for these services is the broadband provider wanting to promote customer satisfaction, reduce customer churn, and protect revenue streams."

Early market leaders, such as the Geek Squad, have already discovered that there are several phases of market development for consumer-centric professional service offerings.

As I've stated before, the evolution of customer care and technical support within the computing, internet access and consumer electronics sectors has evolved through three key phases of fulfilling customer needs for fundamental assistance and guidance.

The first phase was focused on the typical break/fix scenario -- where customers seek help to repair something that is assumed to be broken. The second phase was targeting the typical installation scenario -- where customers need help to install and/or configure a complex device or system. The third phase is the applications support scenario -- where customers need guidance on getting the most out of the investment they have made in these products and services.

There is significant pent-up demand for cost-effective application support, which is currently an unmet need. However, the good news, there is a known untapped resource waiting to be discovered. An innovative example of how to harness that resource is detailed in my "Dell Customer Corps" proposal.

In-Stat's market study found the following:

- Fee-based home network support service subscriptions and revenue in North America will double from 2006 to 2007.

- Market growth will be driven by both established home network users and newly installed home network users.

- Most participants in an In-Stat survey preferred a monthly subscription model over an in-home, per-service-call fee model.

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