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Latinos and Computers

HEARD ON THE BEAT

November 24, 1997|P.J. HUFFSTUTTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A recently released report tracking technology usage in the Latino community revealed that computer hardware and software makers are missing out on a potentially lucrative market.

The eight-month study, "Buying Into the Computer Age," was conducted by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, a nonprofit research organization in Claremont. The group randomly polled 72 Latino residents of Orange and Riverside counties.

In Orange County, the group consisted of mostly college-educated, professional, English-speaking, native-born Latinos whose family income fell from $40,000 to $70,000. In Riverside County, the participants were predominantly working class and recent immigrants with annual incomes of about $25,000.

"We gave both groups a hypothetical $10,000 and asked them what they would buy," said Anthony Wilhelm, the study's lead researcher. "After purchasing a vacation, both groups said, their No. 2 choice would be a computer."

Their reasons for not buying hardware are those echoed by many consumers, regardless of race: lack of knowledge of what to buy; fear that children will be exposed to pornography online; the cost of the equipment; concerns that a computer would become immediately outdated soon after being purchased.

"The interest to purchase the technology is there, but the marketing push on the part of the manufacturers is not," Wilhelm said.

The study was funded by a $30,000 grant from Pacific Telesis, Wilhelm said.

*

P.J. Huffstutter covers high technology for The Times. She can be reached at (714) 966-7830 and at p.j.huffstutter@latimes.com.

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