BusinessWeek.com Reports on Computer Reliability Report Results

Apple Ranked Second for Computer Reliability

Posted by: Arik Hesseldahl, businessweek.com
August 18

A Lot Of Positive Data Points For Apple

 

A handful of interesting surveys and market research studies pertaining to Apple have landed in my in-box in the last few days, and I thought I'd summarize them all in one post.

The one that first got my attention was Apple's performance on the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index. After two years of overall declines in customer satisfaction with computers, overall people are reporting that they're happier with their computers this year than they were last year. Apple topped the computer brands, ranking 84 out of a possible 100, beating all other brands for the sixths straight, year, despite a one-point drop from last year's survey.

Satisfaction among the Windows machines is improving, the index shows, though one can argue that's in partial response to pressure that Apple has been exerting on them over the years. Dell scored a 75, while Gateway came in at 74, an improvement of three points. Hewlett-Packard and its Compaq brand also scored 74.

Another survey, this one from a computer repair outfit called Rescuecom, which I'll grant I've never heard of before today, reports that Apple comes in second behind Asus in its computer reliability report. It bases this conclusion on the number of repair calls received for a given brand.

Out of a total of 11,560 service calls received during the second quarter, 2.2% of those calls were for Apple machines, while 0.6% of them were for Asus Machines. IBM/Lenovo machines accounted for 1.3% of calls, while Toshiba accounted. For 3.5% and HP/Compaq 18% of calls. The number of calls is then weighted against the vendor's share of the market during the second quarter, using market researcher IDC's estimate as a market share benchmark, but for the life of me I can't figure out how this was calculated. Logic says that the more machines a vendor sells, and HP is clearly the biggest of Rescuecom's top five, the more likely it is that its going to suffer some kind of problem. Asus, being the vendor with the smallest share of the market, got the fewest calls. Simple right?

What Rescuecom doesn't indicate in its data is whether or not the service call resulted in actual repair work done, or whether the problem was user error. Going by the raw number of calls alone seems an imprecise metric.

Rather than Rescuecom and its odd methodology, I'm more inclined to listen to Consumer Reports, where Apple has been all but running the table of late. In June, two of Apple's MacBooks and its MacBook Air took the top three spots in the 13-inch notebook category, besting HP, Dell and Gateway. Then in the 14 to 16-inch category the MacBook Pro scored a 75 overall besting the nearest competitor, Toshiba's Satellite M305-S491, which scored a 64. And in the 17-inch category? MacBook Pro 80, Dell Studio S17-162B, 64. No contest.

Where Apple didn't win was in the desktop categories. In the All-in-One division, the iMac lost out by a 4-point margin to the Dell XPS One Red. Perhaps Apple might have won that one if the machine had a memory card reader as the latest generation of MacBook Pros do. But in the "standard" category, the Mac Mine came in second, by a two-point margin to the HP Pavilion Slimline.

Enough about the Mac: Market researcher NPD today reminded that Apple remains the biggest music retailer in North America, with the iTunes store accounting for 25% of all music sold at retail, up from 21% last year and 14% the year before that. Yet despite that lead, CDs are still outselling digital downloads, accounting for 65% of all music sold during the first half the year. Not that you can tell by looking around New York City. My last record store - the Times Square Virgin Megastore - closed recently and a clothing retailer, Forever 21, was, last I knew, supposed to be taking its place. (If you know a good record store in New York, leave its name in the comments.) In any event, NPD says that digital downloads should catch up with CD sales next year, if the trend lines remain the same. Meanwhile, among digital downloads, Apple's share is a whopping 69%, besting Amazon's 8%. Now that's a data point.

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