Personal Computers: Apple skyrockets Customer satisfaction with PCs retreats for a second year, falling 1.3% to 74 to match the level of 2004-2005. Except for Dell (up 1%), the drop is connected with the Windows-based machines – Hewlett-Packard, Gateway, and Compaq are all down by 4%. Not only is Apple bucking the slide, it registers its greatest ACSI increase ever (up 8% to 85) to lead the industry by a wide margin. The satisfaction of Apple PC customers is 13% higher than Dell in second place and 21% higher than Compaq. This is one of the largest gaps in customer satisfaction in any industry covered by ACSI. It is also a record high for Apple. A year ago, Apple’s ACSI score fell by 5%. This type of volatility is unusual in customer satisfaction, but it is also reflected in Apple’s share price, which has been a roller coaster ride for much of the past year. While its ACSI remained at the top of PC makers, it seemed then that the company might have given more attention to its phone business at the expense of its computers. Regardless of the extent that this was the case, now there appears to be synergy in that the integration of phone, music and computer products is leading to more iPhone and iPod users converting to Apple computer products. Sales of Apple products are up almost 25% and net income is up nearly 75% from a year ago. Unlike Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, Gateway and Dell, Apple uses its own operating system and has therefore avoided the issues associated with the 2007 launch of Windows Vista. The release of this new operating system, itself the subject of criticism, may have contributed to the drop of Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, and Gateway. Customers have complained about usability of the new system, sluggish processing speeds and problems of software compatibility, while hardware requirements have led to complaints about price. Another problem has been that many owners of older machines have felt compelled to purchase the Vista upgrade in order to stay current. Even though Vista is just one (albeit very prominent) piece of software in the Microsoft catalog, the ACSI score for Microsoft (released in quarter 1) is showing a development similar to the Windows-based PCs makers.