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Apple Crushes PC in Customer Satisfaction

Douglas A. McIntyre

Apple Inc. (AAPL) well outpaced every major personal computer (PC) maker in the new, annual ratings from widely regarded research firm ACSI. Whatever the problems Apple has with its iPhone and iPad sales and competition, these did not show up at all in the report.

ACSI reported that Apple's overall satisfaction score was 87%, which was an improvement of 1% and tied Apple's best score, which was posted in 2011. The score was also the third highest for any product of any kind measured by ACSI. Apple's score was up 13% from the base year of 1995. ACSI does consumer satisfaction surveys across dozens of categories that cover hundreds of companies.

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Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) finished a distant second in the poll with a score of 80, followed by embattled Dell Inc. (DELL) at 79. Toshiba and Acer followed behind. The average score across all PC companies was 79.

ACSI put part of the blame of the poor performance on Microsoft Corp. (MSFT):

“Microsoft’s revamped Windows 8 operating system does not seem to have provided a bounce in sales or in customer satisfaction for these manufacturers,” says ACSI Director David VanAmburg. “Moreover, the vast majority of devices offered by HP, Dell, and other smaller PC makers are desktops or laptops -- a category that consumers find less gratifying than tablets.”

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The high score comes at a particularly important time for Apple, which has image problems of its own. Although its devices often do well in consumer surveys, its leads in the smartphone and tablet markets have been successfully challenged by newcomers, particularly Samsung, which has swept into the industry like a whirlwind. Samsung is one of a limited number of companies with a balance sheet, revenue and R&D capacity that can match Apple's.

The ACSI results could hardly be worse for Dell and HP, which face falling market share in the PC industry, an industry in which global sales are dropping. Dell's successful effort to go private is not seen as a means to improve its sales trouble. HP continues to thwart investor hopes that it can recover, after years of turmoil between its management and board.

Apple has scored a victory. It needed one.

Methodology: The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is a national economic indicator of customer evaluations of the quality of products and services available to household consumers in the United States. The ACSI uses data from interviews with roughly 70,000 customers annually as inputs to an econometric model for analyzing customer satisfaction with more than 230 companies in 43 industries and 10 economic sectors, as well as more than 100 services, programs and websites of federal government agencies.

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