updated 02:05 pm EST, Tue February 8, 2005
Apple No. 1 in support
Apple took the top spot in all four computer brand surveys that magazine conducted in 2004, according to a research report released by Merrill Lynch. Apple was rated the highest in desktop and laptop repairs and had the best tech support for desktops and laptops, according to the latest survey. Analyst Steven Milunovich said that "Apple's tech support received the highest ratings for desktops and laptops in all categories (solving the problem, phone waits, support staff, and web support). Overall, Apple scored 76 out of 100 for desktop support with Dell second at 57. For laptops Apple scored 84 with IBM second at 69." Citing the continuing "halo effect," Milunovich said he continues to expect more benefits from these positive media reports, combined with Apple's strong iPod/iTunes success, strong retail presence, and growing brand awareness.
Milunovich also said that such a review would continue to help Apple in pushing its products to consumers and switchers: "Positive reviews such as Consumer Reports makes buyers more comfortable 'thinking different.' Apple's ability to create reliable products and back them up with on-line and retail outlet expertise are differentiators. Because ease of use is critical for consumers, Apple's reputation as having product experts who care at the ready matters."
In a report obtained by MacNN, the analyst also said that both the threat of viruses and Apple's superior position to deliver the digital lifestyle to consumers are making Apple more of a mainstream brand. This effect would continue to bolster Apple stock and drive earnings in both 2005 ($0.71) and 2006 ($2.00). Merrill reiterated a 'buy' rating with a price objective of $85 in the next 12-months.