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Mon 31 May 2004 04:00 AM

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Take IT as read

The waiting is over. The Windows Middle East Reader Survey 2004 results are now in, brought to you by the most popular computer magazine in the region. Let's take a closer look at what you had to say.

Introduction|~|magazinesMAIN.jpg|~||~|An army marches on its stomach, Napoleon was fond of saying. History doesn’t record what he thought of magazine publishing, but we know what drives us on here at Windows Middle East: you, our readers.

With that in mind, for the past couple of years we’ve been keen to find out just what makes you tick: what you like, what you don’t like, what you buy, where you work, whatever we could think of really. Crucially though, we were most keen to find out what you thought about us. After all, you’ve made us the most popular computer magazine in the Middle East, so we wanted to know that you’re still happy with what you get every month.

We ran the survey questions in our issues cover-dated February, March and April, and they also ran online. We had a fantastic response with 1702 people being registered before the cut-off point, and several hundred replies arriving after: our apologies, but our data entry guys were so stretched that we decided to be very strict with the deadline this year.

So, who is the average Windows Middle East reader? Unsurprisingly for a consumer magazine that serves such a large geographic region the answer was not easy to define, although there was one exception: gender. Just 198 females wrote in to us, making Windows 89% male. This is pretty much the same as our survey found last year, only marginally down on the 92% male make-up we found then.

While you may be mostly male, where you come from is a bit harder to pin down, unless you use the word everywhere. As befitting the multi-cultural life of many countries here in the Middle East, our readers come from just about anyplace you can think of: from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. A quick check on the internet told us that the Cayman Islands has a population of around 40,000 people, we’ve got one here reading Windows. Mostly though our readership is Arabic, with a very high proportion of Asians, which is again consistent with last year’s findings.||**||About you|~|magazinesMAIN.jpg|~||~|As Ian Brown of UK group The Stone Roses pointed out, its not where you’re from that counts, its where you’re at, so let’s move on to looking at where our readers are with their IT skills. The vast majority of you are happy to describe yourselves as either competent or proficient, with just 77 (4.5%) of readers claiming to be beginners. Over 80% of readers use a computer at both home and work, and the vast majority of you admit to being on the internet constantly. Just two readers confessed to never using the internet, do we need to point out that they both sent in their responses online?

Since we spend most of our time recommending IT products for you to buy, we were keen to work out the purchasing power of our readership and what products you’re most interested in. The vast majority of our readership has an annual income in excess of $15,000, with 78 of you earning more than $100,000 per annum. Most however earn between $15,000 and $49,000, with 34% earning less than $15,000, reflecting the fact that we have a strong student readership. Rather handily, considering we’ve got a notebook guide this month, a notebook is top choice as next purchase, with 28% of total responses. Interestingly, last year’s survey was even more emphatic, with over 45% of readers going for the notebook option. Presumably, a lot of last year’s readers have already bought one... unsurprising, with 64% of readers expecting to make one to three IT purchases in the next month, and 11% having a budget of over $2,000 to spend on IT.

When it comes to where do you buy from, then most of you choose to see a specialist: 66% of you plump for a computer store, rather than a general electrical retailer, and online sales still account for a fraction of the market in this region.

You’re not just buying for yourselves either. While 29% of readers admit to having no influence on IT buying decisions at their place of work, over 600 readers occasionally do, and 35% frequently or constantly have an input on buying IT kit for their workplace. You’re also pretty keen on helping your friends and family out with buying decisions, over 80% of you recommend at least one IT product to somebody else per month, and 9% of you recommend more than ten pieces of kit every month. For those 150 readers, we can only say guys (and we’re pretty sure you are guys), maybe that’s overkill OK?||**||About us|~|magazinesMAIN.jpg|~||~|Time to talk about us now, or at least what you think of Windows Middle East. While we think we’re doing a great job, we’re always keen to know what you our readers think. Of course, it’s not always nice to hear things about yourself, and there were a few sweaty palms in the Windows office when we looked at this section. We wouldn’t go quite as far as saying a few jobs were on the line, but... actually a few jobs were on the line!

Plunging in to the tough stuff, as a consumer products magazine we ultimately stand or fall by the quality of our product reviews: if you don’t trust ‘em, there’s not a lot of point writing them. So it was with some relief that we noted that less than 1% of you considered our reviews unreliable. While 18% of you thought them no better than average, the vast majority considered our reviews to be either reliable or very reliable, with 386 readers plumping for this option.

Probably this explains why 58% of our readership hangs on to their copy of Windows Middle East for reference, with nearly double the number of readers (188 to 103) being happy to put it on the coffee table as would bin it. A quarter of you pass it on to friends to read which, while it deprives us of extra copy sales, seems very sensible.

Around two thirds of our readership has been with us for more than one year, although 25% of readers have been reading Windows for less than six months. This is consistent with our audited circulation figures, which have shown strong gains in the past year, but may also reflect the fact that we have a strong multicultural readership, with a constantly changing population. In any case, most of you go to the shops to buy your copy, over 1000, 60%, taking that option, compared to less than 20% that subscribe.

With a magazine with so many different sections, we knew we were asking for trouble to get people to choose their favourite one, but of course we also wanted to know what it is we do that you most like. A number of you said “everything!” (and don’t think we’ll forget it) but others were more specific. Again, Windows is above all a product magazine, so its not surprising that the specific product sections were the most popular. As with last year, Buyer’s Guide got slightly more support than Reviews or Grouptests, with just over 20% of the votes cast, as well as strong support for the Editor’s Choice section. After Buyer’s Guide, Reviews and Grouptests were the next most popular section of the book, with News just edging out Features and Workshop also proving to be a strong section.

As to what people liked least that was somewhat more contentious, with some of the most popular sections also proving to be the most disliked, Buyer’s Guide and News both having a lot of critics as well as fans. Surely proof that you really can’t please all of the people all of the time... happily however, we clearly are proving popular with some of the people all of the time, with plenty of readers assuring us they didn’t have any dislikes in the mag.

So what do you want to see more? Well, we’re clearly not product packed enough, nearly half of you want to see more reviews, and grouptests. There was also a lot of demand for features and more news.

OK, that’s enough Windows survey stuff for now. Thanks very much to all of those who wrote in, all of your input has been much appreciated, and we look forward to hearing more from you in the future. Please e-mail us on windows@itp.com if you can’t wait until next year.||**||

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