Market research surveys in the computer business are as common as mosquitoes in a swamp and just as annoying.
But Dataquest has produced that is worth wading through. Dataquest telephoned 1,200 users and asked how satisfied they are with their computers. Here are the results:
Computer users in the South were the most satisfied with their machines; those in the West the least.
Users with college degrees were much less satisfied with their machines than those with only a high school education.
Women were happier with their computers than men and were more satisfied with the "user friendliness" of the machines.
It may seem difficult to find a common thread in these responses, but Judith Larsen, a senior analyst at Dataquest, said people who use computers for a limited number of well-understood tasks get comfortable with them. They don't encounter as many of the frustrations as people who constantly test the limits of the technology. That cuts across education, geography and gender.
Users in the West, where computers are designed, are more likely to push them to their limits than users in the South. Better-educated users are more likely to do the same because their jobs demand it. In either case, that's when users will come across flaws in a computer or be disappointed with its maker.
Computer makers will find it difficult, in a business where the pace of change is so great, to reduce the frustrations of people using cutting-edge technology.
However, they certainly can address one finding in the survey: that getting a good value for the money on a quality product is more important to many users than extra features or good documentation.