Very few of us are tech savvy. Most VCR owners seemed incapable of programming the correct time on their machine. We rely on experts and help to advise and teach us on how things work. At the same time, technology has realized the need to build plug and play devices, suitable for the masses to master.
The rise of HDTV, wireless networks, shared devices, and for some, even downloading, can make one's head spin. Companies that work in this new media world that provide full service and true expertise build brand preference and loyalty. Circuit City touts its Firedog service, Best Buy brands its service as Geek Squad. Service matters. Service at a fair price matters more. In my own home, Comcast has been here when DVRs stop working and modems stop blinking. Sometimes getting them in a timely manner is problematic, but they have corrected the problems and have not charged for their service. When Comcast uses their own employees, rather than outsource, the results have been positive. Building on that consistency and touting service support for customers that bring new devices into the home will bring Comcast even greater brand preference and loyalty.
I say this because the article from Multichannel does a disservice to AT&T. "AT&T’s computer and home-network installation services start at $99. TV and home-theater services like flat-panel TV wall mounting and home video installation start at $149. In-home PC repair service, including parts and hardware replacement, begin at $179." Charging customers for service, especially if you are getting them to switch from a competitor to your product, seems problematic. A fee may be necessary for non-customers, but to satisfy and grow your customer base, this pricing model seems excessive.