"Our data is trending well with the sales data," said VanAmburg. "The decline [in PC shipments] has seemed to level off and now it's flattened, and consumers are ready to invest some dollars [in new PCs]."
Consumers also seem to be happiest with desktops, not notebooks, whose scores slumped to 76, a 4% fall from 2013.
VanAmburg also credited tablets with the laptops' satisfaction decline. "Before tablets, laptops scores didn't lag behind desktops, because then the laptop was the tablet. People said, 'Now I have a mobile computer,' " said VanAmburg. "But now the laptop kind of falls in the middle between desktops and tablets. It's orphaned."
The only growth area was in ACSI's "All Others" category, a class that included OEMs that sell smaller numbers of systems in the U.S., like Asus, Lenovo and Samsung. Satisfaction in that group climbed six points, an increase of 7.9%, rivaling Apple's 2007-2008 record increase of six points.
"The smaller players seem to be more appealing now," said VanAmburg, citing their ability to produce more innovative designs that attract buyers. "There has been a nice upswing in satisfaction from those with smaller market shares."
This was the first time in ACSI's polling since 1997 that the All Others score was higher than the industry average.
Personal computers have historically scored lower in satisfaction than other durable goods that ACSI regularly measures, such as home appliances, televisions and automobiles, and that trend continued in 2014. "One of the reasons why the PC industry had always scored lower than other durable products is the complexity involved in the PC," said VanAmburg. "There's a certain simplicity to running a dishwasher versus the kinds of things that go wrong with a PC."
CAPTION: The 'Others' category — OEMs like Lenovo and Samsung — nipped at Apple's heels in the latest satisfaction survey by the American Customer Satisfaction Index. (Data: ACSI.)
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