Apple whips rivals in consumer purchase plans

Times may be tight, but Apple beats Dell, HP in US consumer survey

More American consumers plan to buy an Apple computer in the next 90 days than any other brand, a market research firm said today as it published results of a survey of over 4,000 Americans conducted earlier this month.

Of the consumers polled by ChangeWave Research who said they expect to buy a personal computer in the next three months, 32 percent plan to purchase a Mac. The closest rival was Dell, which accounted for 28 percent of planned purchases.

Apple was also the only vendor whose plan-to-buy share increased from July in both desktops and laptops. In the former, Apple gained 3 percentage points, climbing to 30 percent from 27 percent last month. On the laptop front, Apple increased it share by 2 points, reaching 32 percent, compared to 30 percent in July.

Both the desktop and laptop numbers were records for Apple in the long-running ChangeWave consumer spending surveys.

Dell's desktop share, meanwhile, increased by three points, climbing to 28 percent. But the Round Rock, Texas company lost 4 points in the laptop race, down to 28 percent from 32 percent in July.

Hewlett-Packard Co., however, was decidedly in decline. Planned HP desktop purchases were off 3 points from the month before, down to 17 percent, while planned notebook buys dropped 4 points to 20 percent

"Apple's reached the tipping point," said Paul Carton, ChangeWave's research director. "Where the early adopters and the discretionary spenders were leading the charge, now as we go into the 30 percent range [for planned purchases], the change to Apple looks permanent. What we have in the end, actually we're sort of there now, is that buying an Apple is as normal as buying a Dell or an HP [computer] in America."

Carton said Apple's consumer satisfaction scores and the "halo effect" of the iPhone would continue to pump up the company's sales. Apple trounced rivals such as Dell, HP, Acer and Lenovo on customer satisfaction, he said. In the August survey, 81 percent of people who had bought a Mac in the past 90 days said they were "very satisfied" with the purchase. In comparison, 58 percent of Dell buyers, 57 percent of HP buyers, 53 percent of Acer buyers and 48 percent of Lenovo buyers said they were similarly satisfied.

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