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'Track The Yack' Reveals Laptop Users' Complaints

Time-consuming start-up, a short battery life, and lousy customer service are among the top gripes people have with their mobile computers. And from the "Track the Yack" study comes a place for you to vent your computer frustrations, as well.
Time-consuming start-up, a short battery life, and lousy customer service are among the top gripes people have with their mobile computers. And from the "Track the Yack" study comes a place for you to vent your computer frustrations, as well.The Track the Yack study is part of a Reinvent Mobile campaign launched by the CMO Council's Forum to Advance the Mobile Experience as well as Phoenix Technologies. "We're trying to build global feedback community through quarterly updates," Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, told me. The study, monitored by Fractal Analytics, followed virtual chatter and digital discourse in blogs, forums, and review Web sites. Nearly 10,000 sentiments were gathered from about 4,000 online conversations among mobile PC users.

The top concerns were:

  • Customer service is poor.
  • Prohibitive repair costs often lead to unnecessary obsolescence and e-waste.
  • Systems are overloaded and congested, taxing memory and performance.
  • Boot-up time is wasted time that lasts too long and reduces productivity.
  • Too many unnecessary software add-ons are slowing down mobile PCs.
  • The tribulations of too many trial software offers and applications is an issue.
  • Heat build-up and noise during continuous operation is a hot area of irritation.
  • Power management and batteries need a boost to buy more operating time.
  • Trying to connect is often a disconnect, particularly in the wireless world.
  • Weight weighs heavily on the decision about which system to buy.
  • Poor ergonomics and badly designed input devices are a strain.
  • Insufficient RAM, weak graphics, and faulty motherboards are big areas of complaint.
  • Complaints about poor sound quality are something vendors should listen to.

"What surprised me most was the interest in connectivity," said Neale-May. "There's a very strong interest in instant-on and -off. What was unsurprising were the complaints about design and battery life." Neale-May said he was also interested to hear users' issues with prohibitive repair costs "Why aren't we making it simpler -- why does it take six weeks to send a laptop off for repair?"

The Track the Yack study is part of an online community-building campaign that aggregates a global audience of mobile computer users to form a new channel of co-innovation, feedback, and market engagement. And at the center of the program is a social media and community portal that enables visitors and contributors to:

  • Interact and share mobile computing experiences and views.
  • Discover and submit innovative ideas and insights.
  • React to future designs, concepts, and prototypes.
  • Receive special deals, discounts, and benefits.

"I would hope that [manufacturers] will start to look at approaches to solving these problems," said Neale-May. "I think it behooves them to respond because if they don't get as many returns, if they get more customer satisfaction, then it's good for their sustainability goal -- all things that will drive mobile computing globally.

"Producing a better customer experience will produce better revenue," he added.

And one manufacturer paying attention to all the "yack" is Phoenix Technologies, one of the partners in the Reinvent Mobile campaign. At CES it debuted HyperSpace, an instant-on and always-connected computing environment.

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