Consumers More Satisfied with Desktop PCs than Laptops, Tablets
Consumer satisfaction with computers in general dropped slightly this year compared to 2013, according to a new report. However, U.S. consumers are generally more satisfied with desktop computers than tablets or laptops, according to the report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSi).
The satisfaction score for desktop owners was 81 (ranked on a 0-to-100 scale), a 3 percent increase over last year, according to the report, released on Wednesday. Satisfaction with tablets dropped by 1 percent, to a score of 80, while the largest decline in satisfaction scores was for laptops, which dropped by 4 percent to 76.
Released annually, the ACSI report also looks at customer opinions on household appliances, as well as on televisions and video players. The ACSI, created in 1994, is a joint effort by researchers at the University of Michigan, the Milwaukee-based American Society for Quality and the CFI Group, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The organization bases its national benchmarking figures on surveys of around 70,000 people across the U.S.
‘Bit of a Wow Factor’
We reached out to David VanAmburg, managing director of the ACSI, to learn more about why desktops are outperforming laptops and tablets in terms of customer satisfaction.
"It's an interesting story," VanAmburg said. For several years now, "consumers have not been pouring their money into desktops. It's all about mobile," he said.
As a result, the market for mobile devices has become saturated, VanAmburg said. At the same time, more consumers have decided it's time to update their home desktops, many of which are now three, four, five years old or older.
Once they've replaced these older desktops, consumers have discovered how much faster and more powerful the new devices are, which accounts for the devices' higher satisfaction rankings, VanAmburg said.
"It's a bit of a wow factor, though not much," he said.
In general, the ACSI report finds that Apple owners remain the most satisfied with their devices, although this year's score declined by 3 percent to 84. Scores for both Dell and Toshiba dropped by 4 percent (to 76 and 75, respectively), while those for HP plunged by 8 percent to 74. On the other hand, smaller computer makers such as Samsung, Lenovo and Asus are faring well, with satisfaction scores of 82 (up 8 percent over last year).
Laptops in the Lurch
As the market continues evolving, laptops are being sandwiched in a kind of no-man's land between the stay-at-home desktop and the lightweight and mobile tablet.
"With the rise of mobile, laptops are going to find themselves a bit orphaned in the middle," VanAmburg said. The greater capabilities of today's tablets -- which can now do pretty much the same things as laptops -- means that "the tablet is kind of the next-generation laptop."
Also helping to leave laptops in the lurch is the emergence of two-in-one devices, which can function as either home computers or easy-to-carry tablets.
"I think ultimately what consumers are going to want most is that versatility," VanAmburg said. "I think . . . the success of the market is headed in that direction."