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Sneak Preview into the Future

Posted on Wednesday, Dec 14th 2005

Best Buy has introduced Geek Squad, a technical support service for their customers.

This is a harbinger of what’s to come.

I have been on the phone with a Linksys agent for the past 3 hours trying to configure our fourth computer onto the wireless network in the house. To describe this as a royal pain, would be a gross understatement. We’re not done, now I have to get on the phone with Dell, to debug how the TCP/IP got mucked up.

I want a Geek Squad guy on house call to show up here right now and deal with this nonsense. And if you consider the fact that I am a Computer Scientist, how do mere mortals feel?

How, I keep asking, how, just how, would home networking attain ubiquity?

Best Buy doesn’t break out its service revenue, which includes the Geek Squad and the installation of home theaters, appliances, vehicle audio and video equipment and service centers. The Geek Squad’s computer-support service dovetails perfectly with Best Buy’s strategy of being customer-oriented.

Customers absolutely need it!

NOW.

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Hmmm. I agree with you that home networking (and other such products) need to be much easier to install, use and maintain. However, I disagree that GeekSquad is the long term solution. Whenever the answer is more service delivered by a human, that doesn’t seem scalable (a GeekSquad “geek” can only service so many customers in a given time). How does Best Buy grow revenues from this? I wouldn’t think that the referral sales and upsell opportunities from this are that compelling.

Now, if usability is a problem and Geek Squad is not the Grand Solution to this, then what is? I submit that market forces will reward the company that comes out with simple, easy-to-use solutions over the current market leader Linksys. But then, it may well be the best thing Best Buy did … but i’m not convinced.

Prasad Wednesday, December 14, 2005 at 9:00 AM PT

Of all the things that are messed up in today’s computer technology, I feel networking needs the most help. Why, tell me why, is it so darn difficult to set up a network in the house? Nothing comes easy. Especially not on Windows.

There is always a problem with the shared printer, or sharing files between two laptops in the house, no matter how ‘simple’ they tout their devices to be.

I have had a so-so experience with Linksys thus far, but they are probably a part of the blame. The technology in general needs to be made a little more consumer-friendly and less computer-friendly.

What if there was a wizard that asked ‘non geeky’ questions and convert it to technical configuration entries on the backend? I don’t need to know what DHCP is and what IP address I should start my local network from. I just need to connect my laptop to my wife’s laptop so that we can have one place to keep all our digital photos. I don’t need to go to my printer’s network administration utility to set it up to have static IP – it could just easily ask me if I want to make it a ‘permanent fixture on my network’ or such.

Am I thinking too simplistically?

USC Trojan Wednesday, December 14, 2005 at 11:54 AM PT