Kicked When It's Down: PC Satisfaction Levels Tank


More bad news for the ailing PC sector comes from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which reported Tuesday that PC satisfaction is spiraling downward right alongside PC sales. The only bright spot, according to ACSI, comes from Apple, which defied the sliding trend and saw an uptick in satisfaction among its desktop, notebooks and tablets users.

No surprise here what's driving the negative trend for the PC platform. ACSI reports that PC satisfaction continues to decline as consumers turn to cellphones and tablets for work and play. But, according to ACSI, the move to mobile wasn't the only culprit driving down satisfaction. Blame Windows 8, said David VanAmburg, ACSI director.

"Microsoft's revamped Windows 8 operating system does not seem to have provided a bounce in sales or in customer satisfaction for these manufacturers," said VanAmburg.

[Related: Windows 8: Some VARs Aren't Selling It, They're Replacing It]

Not helping the case for desktop PCs, ACSI said, was consumer expectations driven by demand for faster, more powerful devices that offer new and improved features.

According to the ACSI satisfaction scale, the PC market is down 1.3 ratings points to 79. A closer look at PC makers by brands reveals Hewlett-Packard customer satisfaction is the strongest at 87, up 1.2 percentage points. HP is followed by Dell, which scored 79, despite a 2.5 percentage point drop from the year prior.

Apple, which has been a perennial favorite among its users, blew by PC makers, scoring an overall satisfaction level of 87, up 1.2 percent from the previous year. In fact, Apple tied its 2011 all-time satisfaction high of 87. VanAmburg credited the popularity of the iPad for lifting Apple into the hinterlands of its satisfaction study.

Compared to mobile devices, desktop PC and even laptops don't stand a chance when it comes to satisfaction. ACSI's tablet satisfaction is at 81, which includes all flavors of tables from Android and iOS. ACSI didn't break out iOS tablet satisfaction versus Android.

Digging down deeper in the ACSI report, desktop users' biggest gripes include call center satisfaction, processor speed and operating systems. There's no word on whether respondents were referring to Windows 8. On the flip side, PC users are generally pleased with design, availability of accessories and the number of software apps.

The latest IDC report estimates that PC shipments are expected to decline 9.7 percent in 2013. The outlook was so dismal for PCs that IDC revised its projection, which previously estimated a 1.3 percent decline.

For VARs, satisfaction studies are little more than a Kabuki dance for customers. He said platform satisfaction only represents part of the PC sales and service picture.

Allen Falcon, CEO of Westborough, Mass.-based VAR Cumulus Global, said he hasn't seen satisfaction or dissatisfaction playing a meaningful role in sales to his customer. "It comes down to a client's needs. Do they have service, support or reliability problems? If the answer is 'yes' they upgrade," he said.

Dissatisfaction can drive sales just as much as satisfaction, Falcon said.

PUBLISHED SEPT. 17, 2013