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Apple tops customer satisfaction poll as rivals' ratings slide

Windows Vista to blame?

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Apple has been named the computer maker that most satisfies its customers after it scored a personal best of 85 out of 100 - ten points above its nearest rival, Dell - in a key US customer satisfaction index.

The figures comes from the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), a survey that's been run by the University of Michigan since the mid-1990s. Its latest numbers are based on data collected in Q2.

Dell's score of 75 was a small increase over the 74 points it achieved in 2007 but enough to put it into second place ahead of last year's number two, HP. It also put it just ahead of the industry average of 74 points.

HP scored 73, Gateway 72, and HP's Compaq business 70. The Others category rated 72.

"This is product extension at its best, where the new products, iPod and iPhone, are helping bring new customers to existing computer products," Michigan professor Claes Fornell wrote in the latest ACSI report.

"The fact that Apple is not dependent on the Windows Vista operating system hasn't hurt, either."

That said, the survey was conducted before the arrival of the iPhone 3G and Apple's MobileMe debacle. How well, we wonder, will it hold up next time round?

The ACSI scores take into account how punters feel about a company, its products and service, good or bad. The organisation monitors a wide array of business sectors. The ACSI for each company is based on a sample of 250 customer interviews, conducted by telephone, with more than 65,000 interviews conducted annually, the organisation said.

Customers of all companies are selected from national and regional probability samples by screening a randomly chosen adult in each telephone household.

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