A For Apple in Consumer Satisfaction. B+ For Dell


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Apple and brand-name PCs scored best in a consumer satisfaction survey conducted by PC Magazine, the Washington Post reports.

In a 'reliability' survey of 15,000 readers, Apple, HP, Toshiba and IBM headed the laptop reliability list, while Sony and Handspring topped the handheld sector. In the desktop department, Dell and white boxes were front of the queue.

Apple and NEC did not get the necessary minimum 50 votes to qualify in the desktop survey, while HP and Compaq did not rate particularly well. Sony and Compaq also rated particularly badly on customer support.

In notebooks, Dell has fallen significantly in terms of quality; PC Magazine note the number of Dell portables requiring repair rose appreciably. Dell also scored poorly on technical support. 26% of those surveyed who bought Dells had to have their laptop sent in for repair, while 4% had to have their Dell replaced by a new machine entirely. In 31% of cases, the customer needed to be sent a new 'part'.

Analysis: Aside from the odd missing TiBook display adapter, how many of you 'Bookers send in your PB/iBook for repair within the first 12 months? Not 26% of you, surely? Does Apple send almost one third of you 'parts' following shipment? Like what, a missing hard drive? Screen maybe? The only thing Apple's sent me is a replacement yo-yo in the adapter exchange program.

The PC Magazine stats are a little skewed as they don't give much info on Apple (100 responses on notebooks), versus Dell (over 1,600 responses). I doubt whether too many iMac owners (and certainly not Pro Power Mac users) respond to PC mag surveys. But the white box intrusion into the desktop stats confirms - broadly and unscientifically - what other market indicators have proven recently: that white-box PCs are assuming critical mass in the market at the expense of brand names.

It would be worthwhile a publication like MacWorld running a survey of this type, as its readers not only own or administer Macs, but are also likely to own or to have some experience with PCs, which would give a much more balanced and detailed view of the equation.