Confusing jargon blamed for IT spending slump

Consumers are putting off purchases because of obscure terms such as 'megahertz', 'Bluetooth' and 'DVR', according to a survey
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor

Consumers are balking at technology purchases because they don't understand the technology in PCs and other high-tech gadgets, according to a new survey carried out on behalf of an AMD Consumer Research Group.

The AMD Global Consumer Advisory Board (GCAB), founded by processor manufacturer AMD, claims that the study is the first to quantify the effect that tech confusion has on purchasing behaviour.

The group concluded that consumers are delaying purchasing technology because in many cases they don't understand the terminology used to hawk new products, or indeed what the products are. For example, only 65 percent of the 1,500 consumers surveyed in the UK, the US, China and Japan knew the meaning of "megahertz", despite the frequency of its use in advertising.

Much of the IT industry's advertising money is being wasted, said Patrick Moorhead, chairman of the GCAB and vice president of corporate marketing at AMD: "The technology industry must simplify its vocabulary so that consumers around the world can better understand the benefits technology can bring to their lives."

The study revealed that many of the terms that are lingua franca in the IT community are unknown to the general public. Only 3 percent of respondents achieved a perfect score on a technology-terms quiz, which included "MP3", "megahertz" and "Bluetooth".

Makers of digital video recorders (DVRs), such as TiVo and Sony, might be concerned to discover that even amongst the most knowledgeable respondents -- those who correctly identified more than 7 out of 11 terms -- only slightly more than one in three knew what a DVR was. A DVR records television programming onto a hard drive, making use of digital programme guides and usually offering additional features such as the ability to pause live programming or archive shows onto DVD.

The survey also revealed details of the way confusion over terms and products affected buying behaviour. Those who could identify six or fewer technologies correctly were more likely than the higher scorers to delay technology purchases. Out of the low-scoring group, 47 percent said they would delay purchasing a digital camera because of its complexity.

Complexity was a turn-off for the more IT-savvy respondents as well, with 40 percent saying they would delay purchasing a handheld computer because the devices are too complicated. Forty-six percent of all respondents said they did not buy anything that had a complicated set-up process.

While many high-tech gadgets aim for consumers that may not necessarily be familiar with computer technology, the study found that most gadget buyers have, in fact, already been inducted into the world of IT. For example, 87 percent of those planning to buy a DVR in the next 12 months already own a home PC, while 80 percent of those planning to buy a DVD player already had a PC.

The survey was carried out by IT research firm MetaFacts.

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