Apple leads PC Magazine’s 16th annual Service and Reliability Survey

The 18,000 subscribers surveyed by PC Magazine for their 16th annual Service and Reliability Survey were more content this year than in 2002 about the reliability and available technical support for their computers.

Apple Computer led the desktop PC category, scoring an A+ along with Dell, tying the Mac maker. Sony got an A, as did ABS Computer Technologies, a maker of PCs geared toward value-conscious buyers and video game players.

In laptop or notebook computers, the top grades went to Apple. IBM and Toshiba also tied for top grade. Dell followed with a B+.

In the server category, Apple placed first in overall satisfaction, tied with Dell.

One need only read the report to see that only the Mac OS X-based computers from Apple placed consistently first in desktops, laptops, and servers. Might this report open a few more eyes?

Full report here.

MacDailyNews Take: It is very interesting and informative to see how the “mainstream” press treats this story, most notably The Associated Press. The AP story below will be repeated verbatim in thousands of media outlets around the world for the next few days. This is where the vast majority of people (potential computer buyers) will read of the PC Mag survey, not from the survey itself. This is how “Wintel” propagates itself. It obsures enough real information to create a virtual lie. This succinctly illustrates why Apple struggles so for the hearts and minds of computer buyers. The AP story including their headline:

Users Shouting At Computers Less

Dell Tops Satisfaction Survey

NEW YORK (AP) — Computer users aren’t shouting at their screens quite as much.

PC Magazine says a survey of 18,000 subscribers found that consumers are more satisfied with their computers — and a major reason is Windows XP.

The magazine said Microsoft’s newest operating system has made PCs seem more stable and reliable.

For the 12th year out of the last 13, Dell’s desktop PCs scored highest, and this year Dell shares top honors with Apple. But the merger of Hewlett-Packard and Compaq did nothing for their desktops, which got the lowest possible grades.

For laptops, IBM, Toshiba and Apple ranked highest.

The magazine said the biggest complaint among computer users is with technical support people who are hard to understand because that work has been moved overseas to cut costs.

AP story here.

Read the report directly from PC Magazine. Pay attention to the charts a few pages in and see what conclusion you come up with. We stand by our report and our headline.


  1. How exactly does Apple lead the PC desktop category if it TIES Dell???

    And as for server category, once again how can Apple place first AND tie with Dell? Either you’re number 1 or you’re tied, not both. Obviously someone at MDN doesn’t understand these basic concepts.

    Also, for ther server category, you mean the 3 people using their Macs for servers were happy with service and reliability??? That means much… (I’m actually more surprised that Dell got approval ratings for their servers since they now have a fairly large marketshare in that category) (If you read the article, <2% of the users surveyed used Mac OS which is not a good statistical base)

    My final note on this survey (besides surveys are _the_ lowest form of research and investigation) is it was only answered by PC Mag subscribers who are basicly PC tinkerers–not real IT professionals.

  2. Those using the Dells most probably DO NOT have Mac experience, but most of the Mac users are forced to use Windows at work, so who’s opinion matters most? Those choosing Dell have no idea what they’re missing out on, while those choosing Apple Mac understand that you only live once, so you deserve THE BEST. Anybody who chooses to spend 8+ hours a day on a Windows PC has never really tried Mac OS X.

  3. humph,

    Desktops: Apple received the highest grade.
    Laptops: Apple received the highest grade.
    Servers: Apple received the highest grade.

    No other PC maker can say what I just wrote, hence Apple leads.

  4. Granted some PC mag subscribers are weekend warriors, however I have a feeling that some of them, myself included, live and die by their computers for work. We use 9 macs at my companies photo studio, high volume product photography and I can say that we practically never have to call Apple for help.

    So even though I’m not an IT professional by name, I practically act as the IT department for our studio and can say that Apple’s are VERY reliable.

  5. The AP article is as skewed one direction as MDN’s is the other direction. However, short of the sub-title, at least The AP used the facts from the article (unlike MDN)

    As for Atomic Bomb and Mark, you’re not reading the MDN statements carefully enough. I’m not referring to the headline MacDailyNews has created but the text within their “article”. For instance:

    “Apple Computer led the desktop PC category,”

    is an incorrect statement.

  6. humph,

    If you can’t see that the MDN article is so much more indicative of the actual survey results (that Apple was FIRST or tied for FIRST in EVERY category which no other PC maker can claim) and that the AP story is a COVERUP of those FACTS, you’re not being honest to yourself.

  7. AP reports, “PC Magazine says a survey of 18,000 subscribers found that consumers are more satisfied with their computers — and a major reason is Windows XP.”

    How can that be when Apple was first in desktops, laptops, and servers running Mac OS X? Why did AP twist the story?

    That’s what I just asked AP via email.

  8. humph, I guess you don’t know how mathematics works. It technically a true statement that “Apple Computer led the desktop PC category.” It is also a true statement that “Dell led the desktop PC category”. What is not true is that “Sony and ABS tied for second in the desktop PC category.” They actually tied for third. You can have two number one finishers. Clearly the survey was not detailed enough, or extensive enough to have enough information to distinguish between the two tieing for first.

    The same is true for the laptop and server subsets.

    MDN’s headline is more accurate than AP’s because Apple tied for first in three categories. Dell tied for first in only two categories. In any multipart competition this gives Apple the edge over Dell to claim to be the first overall.

    Additionally, about your comment than <2% is not statistically significant, 2% of 18,000 is 360. Almost all statisticians will tell you that a base of 300+ is much more than enough to give a statistically significant answer.

  9. Thank you MDN for continuing to reveal these practices by journalists and analysts. Although I do my best to tell other Wintel bozos about these practices, they always look at me like I’m just overly paranoid and disillusioned – But the reality speaks to today’s headlines. I firmly believe that one day, with constant innovation and the ever-improving fiscal approach by Jobs and Company, Apple will build a user base of 50 million+ users worldwide. Those types of numbers would truly make market share completely irrelevant and Apple a major player well beyond my lifetime.

  10. PC Mag:

    “Dell came in first in desktops! (tied with Apple). IBM and Toshiba came in first in desktops! (tied with Apple). Dell came in first in servers! (tied with Apple).”

    PC Mag editorial meeting:

    “Fsck that Apple! Haven’t we driven them out of business yet?! They keep ruining our survey and getting in the way of our “Windows is getting more reliable” reports!”

  11. thomcarl,

    We expect it from PC Mag – the problem is AP which will be replicated everywhere. AP buries the Apple story in favor of a bogus and secondary Windows XP improvement story. Why? Follow the money!

  12. When this story was reported on KTLA in Los Angeles this morning by their business reporter, he didn’t even mention Macintosh. One of the anchors said that Apple got high marks also, and he had to admit that.

  13. You know what the funny thing is: if you read the review on MSNBC it only give Apple to lines of credit than it is all about Dell and WinXP. Of course MSNBC is tied to Microsoft but any OBJECTIVE writer would have clearly stated that Apple’s appearance in the survey is surprising since a.) it’s PC Magazine b.) Apple wasn’t included last year since not enough of PC Magazine users used Macs (That’s saying something right there) and finally c.) Macs don’t use Win XP.

    ABS, Apple, Dell, Sony

    ABS, Apple, Dell, Sony

    Apple, Dell

    Apple, Dell, Gateway

    Apple, IBM, Toshiba

    Apple, IBM, Toshiba

    Apple, IBM


    Apple, Dell

    Compaq, Dell

    This says it all. Gates, PC Mag, Dvorak and the AP can blow me.

  15. Mac OS X outpaced all other operating systems (including all versions of Windows) with more than 50% of users responding that their system “never” crashes/freezes.

  16. “This is how “Wintel” propagates itself. It obsures enough real information to create a virtual lie.”


    And you have the Wintel apologists spewing the misinformation even further down the line until the Apple part of the story is removed altogether. Three weeks from now. all that will be left in their collective memories is… DELL WON!

    I guess in the end, the payback for Mac users is the knowledge that Wintel users live in hell whether they admit it or not. (usually not) When they are not wasting their time writing their latest “Apple is Dead” piece, they are rebooting their PCs for the umpteenth time in as many days. ;o)

    You can only pity the poor fools their ignorant arrogance.

  17. Associated Press. Where to start. Most people in the business know AP is about as reliable as The National Inquirer –seriously. Unfortunately, not everyone is in the media biz. MDN has a point though, AP is of course syndicated news –massive… everyday so many unknowing people rely on reporting supplied by The Associated Press and worse. Very disconcerting.

    (side note: isn’t it odd that the more inaccurate the reporting the larger the outfit –I believe The National Inquirer has one of the largest circulations in the known universe).

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