updated 03:10 pm EDT, Wed September 8, 2010
Apple tops ASUS, Systemax in study
Apple today managed to hold on to and in some cases widen its lead in a reader-guided study of satisfaction with their computers and mobile devices. The company's MacBooks led the way in PC Mag's studies with an overall score of 9.2; the figure was the highest in any category, not just notebooks, and kept it in front of ASUS' 8.5. Most sat between 7.9 and 8.1, while HP's Compaq label trailed the pack at 7.3.
The company's reputation for portables was somewhat clouded by its repair rate, which at 15 percent was equal to Lenovo and HP. However, it still led the reliability rankings at 9.3 percent while Dell, HP and Lenovo all dropped in satisfaction with repairs and technical help. Although not detailed in the study, Apple is helped by having phone support in North America as well as through its retail presence, where most of its competitors outsource to other continents and often require that customers mail in to a depot to get a fix.
Any issues disappeared in desktops; iMacs, Mac minis and Mac Pros not only gave it a leading 9.1 score but the lowest portion of computers needing repair. Systemax was second at 8.0, but no Windows PC, even those custom-built or made by a local shop, scored above 7.9 for a likelihood to recommend; Apple scored 9.3.
Among mobile devices, Apple again had the best overall score for cellphones, as the iPhone had 8.6. Its results, however, were conditional; its AT&T exclusive in the US meant that HTC at 7.7 could still be the top choice on Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. Most of its devices on these networks are Android models. Motorola's Droid line gave it a similar nod for Verizon customers. In MP3 players, Apple's lead was narrower and put the iPod just 0.2 points ahead of Microsoft's Zune.
No matter the category, the magazine hoped to explain some of Apple's effect by tracking loyalty between promoters who champion the brand, passives who don't care, or detractors who actively discourage others from making their mistakes. About 85 percent of Apple device owners are considered promoters while only four percent were detractors, but nearly as many Compaq owners hate their purchases as like them. Quality often has the largest influence and is mirrored in the spread, as Apple's emphasis on high-end systems where Compaq is deliberately built to a low price.