iPad Drives Apple to New Highs in U.S. Customer Satisfaction Survey for Personal Computers

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The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) today released new data on the personal computer industry, showing consumers awarding Apple the highest scores for the seventh straight year with a record satisfaction score of 86. Nearly all other computer manufacturers came in with scores of 77, with HP's Compaq brand bringing up the rear with a 74.

CNBC spoke with ASCI about the survey and learned that, while customers continue to like Apple's products and retail store experience, much of Apple's two-point gain from last year's results appears to be driven by the inclusion of the iPad, Apple's highest-scoring product, in the numbers.

I called David VanAmburg, managing director of ACSI, to get a sense for what's behind the scores. He told me Apple's overall score was up slightly because people like its computers and the retail support experience - but he also mentioned that the numbers included the iPad for the first time.

He told me that the iPad, even at this early stage, pulled up Apple's overall numbers - which makes it the highest-scoring product Apple has, and therefore the highest-scoring product ACSI has ever tracked.

Apple's nine-point lead over its nearest competitors is the largest for any industry tracked by ASCI and matches last year's margin over second-place Dell. Apple's largest margin over its competitors came in 2008, when it held a ten-point lead over second-place Dell in a year where most Windows PC manufacturers saw significant declines in customer satisfaction, reportedly due in large part to complaints about Windows Vista.

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