Consumers waste money on gadgets

The new technology isn't all it's cracked up to be once it's in he hands of the users

Australians are increasingly spending their hard-earned income on technology they don't know how to use. Moreover, two-thirds of the Australians surveyed (67 per cent) admitted to putting up with technology they believed was not performing, according to a report by Galaxy Research titled The Gizmo Household Technology Study.

According to the study, commissioned by Australian-owned services provider Gizmo, Australia's relentless appetite for new technology is tempered by the inability of consumers to use many of the features contained in items they buy.

The survey revealed the most common complaints about consumer technology to be:

  • Hardware is slow to boot up (35 per cent);
  • Frequent pop-ups and error messages (25 per cent);
  • Not sharing devices such as printers or modems across multiple PCs (22 per cent);
  • Old or broken equipment (19 per cent);
  • Not being able to play music through a home stereo (16 per cent); and
  • Losing digital files like photos (three per cent).

    Many Australians also admitted to not knowing how to fix minor problems when they occurred. "Consumers are buying up big on new technology, but many are struggling to get the most out of these investments," said Brett Chenoweth, CEO of Gizmo. "In fact, the computer skills of many Australians are lagging between five and 10 years behind the technology features they have in their homes.

    "Whether it's setting up shared iTunes libraries, networking file and print sharing, setting up a wireless network, or backing up precious documents and photos, many Australians are just not able to integrate technology in their homes".

    By failing to integrate, the report showed, Australians are duplicating the technologies they use at home. For example, seven in 10 of Australians surveyed had two or more computers in their household, implying that there are large numbers of people who could create a household network without purchasing extra equipment. However, 40 per cent of those surveyed with two or more computers did not have file sharing enabled, and 18 per cent admitted that not all computers had access to the Internet.

    Moreover, 11 per cent of surveyed Australians admitted to paying for two or more Internet connections, when a networked house would allow all computers to share a single connection.

    Similarly, one in three Australians surveyed (36 per cent) had two or more printers in their household, yet almost half of these (46 per cent) were not able to print from all computers to all printers, without the time-consuming process of swapping files or cables.

    According to Chenoweth, "consumers are struggling to make sense of the constant technical evolution. Many are just buying the latest technology because they are captivated by a few key features, not realising those features might already exist in their homes," he explained.

    Len Rust is publisher of The Rust Report.

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