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Demand for Digital Home Managed Services

Growing complexity in consumer technology creates both challenges and opportunities. The expansion of technology within the home has been accompanied by device installation and troubleshooting problems that often require specialized knowledge.

To help consumers overcome these challenges, IDC believes a new generation of tech support services is rising up that leverages 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, 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 more consumers will require, and be willing to pay for, a higher level of support to ensure smooth operations at home."

To better understand the technology problems that consumers are encountering, IDC analyzed more than 10,000 consumer support sessions captured by support service provider PlumChoice. Key findings from this market study include:

- PC software and operating system problems were the most common, representing 41 percent of the support sessions analyzed.

- Security problems, particularly issues associated with viruses, spyware, and malware, were the second most common session type representing 23 percent of the sessions. Despite the high number of security related sessions, 82 percent of consumers indicated that they had security software installed. This suggests that consumers are not regularly updating the 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 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 providing remote support services and develop support capabilities that extend beyond the PC."

I believe that "simplicity, by design" is still in the priority category of an afterthought for the vast majority of consumer product designers. That said, demand for digital home managed services will continue to escalate, given this backdrop.

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