updated 09:35 am EST, Mon December 7, 2009
ASUS' netbook quality lets Apple take lead
Apple has taken the lead as the most reliable computer maker thanks to ASUS' over-dependence on netbooks, a new RESCUECOM study says. Where ASUS led the rankings in the third quarter of 2008 and in the spring this year, Apple has surged back to earn a reliability score of 374 for the third quarter this year, or more than twice ASUS' third-place 166 score. Much of ASUS' fall is attributed to first-wave Eee PC netbooks getting older and failing in relatively large numbers due to their poorer build quality.
"Now that many of the netbooks by ASUS have been out for a while, there is obviously a higher need for service," the repair firm's CEO David Millman says.
While the results are dependent on the ratio of computers shipped versus the number of requests for help that RESCUECOM receives and can fluctuate, the company notes that it's counting not just the construction of the system but the post-sale support from the manufacturer itself, taking some of its own influence out of the equation. Apple accounted for about 9 percent of US PC shipments in the summer but only made up 2.4 percent of calls.
Apple's lead was considerably narrower over second-place Lenovo, which reached 320 points, but fared much better against much larger competitors. Toshiba reached fourth place with a score of 165, while HP and its Compaq label were a distant fifth with 134. HP's ratio was especially poor; while it shipped 24.9 percent of computers, it represented 18.5 percent of support calls.
The shift partly supports Apple's distaste for netbooks. Executives have often commented that they don't believe they can produce a high-quality system at the sub-$500 prices demanded by the category. It has also avoided going significantly under $1,000 even for full-size notebooks due to similar concerns and has lately focused on components that are more likely to last, such as the stiffer unibody shell in all MacBooks and a preference for slot-loading optical drives that don't have a tray to break.