Are tech firms in danger of putting off customers with geek-speak?

The masses against the techies

It’s long been a position of this publication that it is easy to over-estimate the general public’s understanding of the products our industry is built on. This assertion is not meant to be patronising – an ignorance of the specific benefits of a quad core processor over a Celeron should be no more shameful than not knowing whether your car engine’s catalytic converter has a ceramic or stainless steel core. Just fix the motor, mate.

Telling users exactly how fast the hard drive spindle goes round can be seen as surplus to requirement in most cases, but that’s how the industry is geared up to sell new kit.

The average savvy of computer users probably used to be higher – but vendors have never been so consciously targeting the mass market as they are now. As well as laptops, cameras and printers, cutting edge tech like tablets and 3D hardware is seemingly skipping the high-end, enthusiast market and being thrown squarely at the masses from the off.

For this reason Tesco, which has the ‘average shopper’ in its pocket, is stepping up in the tech space, and this is also why it seems to be achieving so much success. The grocery giant has invested in training up specialists, and wants to be at the forefront of the new waves of tech coming our way.

It is also very aware that non-techy shoppers are often more comfortable buying laptops from the same place they get their family’s food – not less. If the point needed proving, this month also sees BHS and Co-op moving into the technology market.

And it’s not just retailers. This month’s interview with AMD reveals the chip maker is turning its back on the ‘arms race’ culture which has defined its relationship with Intel. If you don’t know what the cold string of numbers attached to the latest processor or graphics card means (and most people won’t), it can seem intimidating and, well, pointless.

The Vision system instead looks to simplify the whole process by essentially categorising computers into what they’ll be used for. It’s a strategy that is aimed squarely at simplifying its new technology for the mass market.

Call it dumbing down if you like, but the trend has been developing for sometime now and the smart money is on more retailers and vendors following suit. It certainly hasn’t done Apple any harm…

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