Apple routs rivals in sat survey
Fanbois hail beloved Macs
Apple has by far the highest level of customer satisfaction among computer-buying consumers, according to a recent study (PDF) conducted by ChangeWave Research.
The study, which focused "primarily on the U.S. market," interviewed 3,115 consumers between February 2 and 9. Among consumers who purchased a desktop or laptop in the past 90 days, 81 per cent of Mac buyers reported that they were "very satisfied" with their purchase. The manufacturer with the next-highest ranking, ASUS, achieved a 67 per cent "very satisfied" rating.
The news wasn't as good for Dell and HP, which scored 55 and 52 per cent, respectively. Lenovo ranked worst, with a mere 50 per cent of its recent purchasers calling themselves "very satisfied."
Satisfaction is, of course, a highly subjective concept. A consumer who regards a purchase as a reflection his or her own personal stylishness, hipness, or up-to-the-minute design savvy may be more apt to be satisfied with their choice than one who's merely buying a computing appliance.
And an argument can be made that a not-insignificant number of Apple iMac and MacBook purchasers may fall into that category.
Still, Apple's 81 per cent satisfaction rating tells a more-positive story than does Lenovo's dismal ranking. A company that can only satisfy half of its buyers needs to do some serious soul-searching.
In addition to its customer-satisfaction rankings, the study also looked at recent and planned personal-computer purchases. And here the news was not good for any manufacturer.
Planned personal-computer purchases by individuals - the study didn't survey business buyers - have shrunk to "the lowest level ever recorded in a ChangeWave survey." A mere four per cent of respondents said that they plan to purchase a desktop computer in the next 90 days. Six percent said that they plan to buy a laptop.
During the same period last year, those plan-to-buy numbers were eight and six per cent, respectively, and as recently as June 2007, they reached 12 and seven per cent.
Of those consumers who plan to buy laptops in the next 90 days, Apple is the preferred manufacturer: 30 percent said they plan to buy MacBooks or MacBook Pros, compared with 26 percent planning to buy a Dell and 22 per cent an HP.
Dell led among those who plan to buy a desktop, however, at 32 per cent - although that figure was down from an identical survey taken the month before, when Dell held a 34 per cent planned market share.
The study cited netbooks as being "one of the few beneficiaries of this tough spending environment." This category - one in which Apple has so far refused to play - saw a plan-to-buy growth of four per cent from January to February from 14 per cent to 18 per cent.
Apple may be leading in overall customer satisfaction, but it isn't satisfying its fans who are shopping for an affordable ultra-portable. ®
Macs are for creative folks
I'm always intrigued by the notion that somehow Macs are for creative people, but PCs are for serious people. Maybe that was true back in the days when desktop publishing was new, but nowadays, pretty much anything you can do on OS X can be done on Windows, and vice versa. Here's why I love my 3-year old MacBook Pro.
1. Magsafe power plug. Very little chance of destroying a computer, as I once did to a Dell Latitude laptop where the power cable ended up inextricably tied around my foot just I stood up abruptly. Those little tiny touches do make a difference.
2. It's real Unix, so I can run computer science-y software that was written for Unix.
3. It really is plug-and-go. I have a Dell laptop with Ubuntu on it, and while it's a nice system, I had to do a lot of work to get everything working properly on it.
4. My antivirus software for that machine consumes zero bytes, takes 0% of the cpu cycles, and cost me $0.
5. Apple includes their development software at no cost with every system.
6. Apple's development software does not suggest that I become super-user in order to compile, test, and debug software. Visual Studio did exactly that on Vista, maybe it won't on Windows 7.
Not one of these is something that Apple's competitors couldn't duplicate (they'd have to license the magsafe patents, I guess, but they could apply the same attention to detail about other aspects of how people actually use machines).
Windows systems fail on all six of these criteria. Unix/Linux systems pass on 2, 4, 5, and 6, but fail on 1 and 3. (Incidentally, I know my way around Unix, having started in 1975 on a Unix V7 system. Even so, when I want to send email, or write software, the last thing I want to be doing is to fiddle with system parameters to make everything work, and yes, I have had to do that with every system I have ever installed Linux on).
So my point is, Microsoft, the hardware vendors, and the Unix/Linux community COULD be competing with Apple. The criteria I listed here happen to be mine; other folks have their own, though `it just works' should be on everyone's. Where people miss the boat is to say `Oh, we aren't Apple, we do it our way'. Apple definitely has their failures, but their successes come from building things that satisfy needs (not just status) in people's lives. Other companies could do the same.
By the way, let me put in a plug for Mark Shuttleworth's goal of making Ubuntu compete with OS X. I don't know if they'll be successful, but they are definitely thinking the right way.
Ease of use
I had a call from an elderly lady last week. She was thinking about buying a computer as she had been taking lessons at the local adult education centre. As she was retired and no-longer had a secretary, she now had to do all her own writing instead of giving dictation.
She had spoken to some friends at her club (a husband & wife, 1 Mac & 1 PC vista) and on the strength of their arguments decided to look at a mac.
I met her at the local Apple store and showed her what was what, and asked her what she had been using at the AEC. Windows XP on some generic box.
When I get a situation like this I tend to advise the prospect to consider what they are familiar with and how easy they find it in use.
This morning she phoned to say that Apple had just delivered her Macbook Pro.
Another Survey I See
Has anyone ever heard of the source of this survey? How do we know this is not all made up?
I mean "Hooray for Apple" and all that --- but still......................................
... as long as I didn't have to pay my own money for its over-priced shiney hardware
I don't :-)
... as long as I'm allowed to install Vista on it
... and if only it came with a keyboard where the keys are in the right places.
They are. They're basically in the same place as an American keyboard. (And trust me, if you ever spend a year being forced to use a French AZERTY keyboard but manage to persuade your employer to let you load the US keyboard drivers you too will learn to love that layout!). Why the British arbitrarily decided to move all the keys around 30 years ago I will never know, presumably because the Americans had computers then and we still had typewriters and we'd never heard of things like backslash and tilde.
Incidentally, it's a lot easier to generate keystrokes for any missing characters on a Mac keyboard than it is on Windows. I know alt-U will give me an umlaut, alt-E an acute accent, alt-3 a hash character, and so on - all very intuitive shortcuts - but even after 20 years of using Windows I still don't know how to type café on an English PC keyboard!
Sorry, I was so overwhelmed with your "you get what you pay for" logic that I went into spontaneous cheering. It seems "journalists" have forgotten that when you are a cheap piece of shiit3 and you buy a cheap piece of shiit3 then, inevitably, your experience is that your cheap piece of shiit3 is a cheap piece of shiit3!! And your response is to ask yourself what cheap piece of shiit3 sold me this cheap piece of shiit3!?
I know I paraphrased your response, but your analysis was right on the money.