Digital Home Brings A Digital Headache

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As the use of technology grows in the home, an increasing number of people are expected to turn to professional on-site or remote support services to solve the inevitable problems, a market research firm said Thursday.

A survey of U.S. and Canadian home Internet users found more than 60 percent interested in software that automates basic home computer maintenance functions, and a third liked the idea of subscribing to technical support and troubleshooting services.

Based on the survey findings, Parks Associates estimates that in the last 12 months, more than 41 million U.S. Web users had Internet security problems, more than 21 million had computer hardware and software issues, and nearly 11 million had problems with a home network.

"As the average household uses more digital services and products, there will be substantial risk to the bottom line for both service providers and manufacturers as their technical support costs escalate," said Kurt Scherf, vice president and principal analyst for Parks Associates, said in a statement.

Rather than let costs increase, vendors and service providers should take advantage of consumer willingness to buy additional warranties and accident protection contracts on new electronics and computer products, Parks Associates said. In addition consumers also have reacted positively to preventative maintenance, monitoring, and troubleshooting services.

"Consumers want access to trusted third-party providers of information, support, and how-to services when it comes to their digital home products and services," Scherf said.

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