Do you ever get phone calls from friends and family who need help with their computer or DVD player? Troubleshooting is often challenging, but over the phone it can get almost surreal; “The Google’s not working… oh, wait, the Google’s back working again” [sic]

Although I am no computer expert, nor even a “digital native”, I am the family’s favorite geek when it comes to technology. Recently, this has translated into a number of lengthy calls with my mother as she struggled to catch-up with her favorite TV shows on her PC.

If it ain’t broke…
Like most people, once my mother has the hang of something, she doesn’t like to change. This is especially true of how she uses her computer. She does her emails on Yahoo, looks at photos of her grandchildren on Facebook and all her favorite websites are bookmarked on Chrome. So, when her favorite catch-up TV service suddenly stopped working, she was mystified.

  • Did closing the browser and re-opening it solve the issue
  • Re-booting the computer? (the IT cure-all)
  • Was her computer infected with some malware that blocked certain services?
  • Maybe she forgot to pay up her subscription? (that last one did not go down well…)

But it took some time and increasingly frayed nerves before we made the link with a pop-up message she received with the words “plugin” and “Silverlight”. She had ignored the message as these terms meant nothing to her and she was wary of potential hacking attempts. Every time it popped up, she carefully closed the window without clicking on the link to find out more.

“Obscure” technical reasons
All explanations for why Chrome no longer supported the catch up TV service that my mother watches fell on deaf ears. And because she did not understand, her frustration was all the greater; why must I change browser? Why can’t the service provider make it work? I can watch YouTube on Chrome, so why is this one not working?

So we were faced with a difficult choice; update her Chrome plug-in settings, remotely guiding her step by step through the instructions or install a new browser and train her on how to use it or even, switch to an alternative internet TV offering.

If content isn’t easy to get to, is it still king?
Does this sound like an extreme case of the technically challenged? In the online world of instant gratification, the threshold for frustration is very low. Computer novices are quick to throw in the towel. Even consumers who are tech-savvy enough to switch browsers often refuse to do so out of personal preference.

With the popularity of Chrome, I doubt my mother was the only frustrated user. And frankly, providing a reliable service should be a given for any serious OTT provider. Online, it only takes the click of a mouse to switch to a competitor.