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Tech-Support Company Turn people's baffling computer mishaps into a money-making opportunity.

By Eryn Gable

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

My computer growls at me. Grrrr. Sometimes, I imagine a littleelf inside grumbling at me for waking him up to run the hard drive.I wait for the elf to calm down, or I hit the tower, rattling thelittle guy enough to shut him up. When nothing appeases him,I'll finally call one of our computer techs to permanentlysolve the problem. That makes me one of the lucky ones.

Average consumers or business owners generally don't have aconvenient techie to aid them in times of need. That's where agrowing number of help-desk companies hope to capture a chunk ofthe tech-support market. While there were nearly 72 million PCsinstalled in American homes and $150 million generated by supportportals in 1999, IDC predicts those numbers will grow to more than 128million PCs and over $4 billion in 2004.

With about half of all American households owning a PC, The Yankee Groupassociate analyst Gerard O'Shea says people's frustrationswith computers, and thus their need for technical assistance, willlikely increase. "As consumers grow more savvy with theirexperiences with the Internet, the applications are becoming evenmore complex at a faster rate than we're becoming savvy,"O'Shea says.

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