August 18, 2009, 12:00 AM

Despite a small slip, Apple still crunches competition in web satisfaction

Apple’s web site remained the leader among computer manufacturers, while Google retained a big advantage among search engines, reports ForeSee Results and the University of Michigan.

When it comes to satisfying online consumers, Apple Inc. remains the clear leader among computer manufacturers and Google Inc. among search engines, the University of Michigan and ForeSee Results report today.

Apple, No. 5 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, slipped slightly to a score of 84 from 85 last year on the 100-point scale of the study, based on the methodology of the university’s American Consumer Satisfaction Index. But that still put Apple well ahead of Dell, which remained steady at 75. The sites of Compaq, Gateway and Hewlett-Packard all scored 74, in each case making modest gains from 2008. Dell is No. 3 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and H-P No. 16. Compaq is part of H-P and Gateway is owned by computer manufacturer Acer.

There was no change in the ratings of the top three search engines, which was good news for Google, the top-rated site with a score of 86. Yahoo scored 77 and Microsoft’s MSN 75, both unchanged from 2008.

The results highlight the challenge that Microsoft Corp. faces as it tries to use its Bing search engine, introduced in May, to challenge Google, says Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results. “The research was done before Bing entered the market, so we don’t know what effect its entry will have,” Freed says. “But Google’s customers are pretty happy and have little reason to try something new, so Bing has a real uphill battle ahead.”

ForeSee Results produced the annual report based on the ACSI methodology for measuring the satisfaction of consumers with goods and services available in the United States. ForeSee Results also produces a separate annual report measuring satisfaction with the top 100 online retailers, which is published in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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