Microsoft has already formalized a new market for 2-in-1 PCs, but a recent study by J. D. Power says that these devices are also successful in another way: Customer satisfaction of Microsoft Surface devices is just as high as that of Apple’s iPad.
Folks, that is even more impressive than it seems. Apple has always gotten a pass when it comes to customer satisfaction as its well-heeled users simply provide the highest-possible marks to the company and its products. Spend some time in an Apple Store to see what I mean: Most of the people in there on any given day are waiting for a service reservation. But virtually all of these people would still give Apple high marks when asked. I’m not sure if there’s a name for this phenomenon, but it goes like this: Convinced you’ll have a superior experience when you pay more, you go on to have a superior experience. Because, after all, you paid more.
Well, it’s working for Microsoft now as well. A recent J. D. Power study looked at customer satisfaction in the tablet market and found that Apple iPad and Microsoft were neck-and-neck, or basically tied for first place. (Technically, iPad was just ahead with a score of 830, compared to 829 for Surface, on a scale of 1000 possible points.)
“As demand increases for hybrid tablets—those with the capabilities of a touch-screen tablet and laptop computer—so have customer satisfaction and usage activity,” the J.D. Power study notes. “This change is the result of a combination of form, function and ease of operation raising the level of convenience found in a 2 in 1 device.”
The J.D. Power study, now in its fifth year, measured the following five factors, in order of importance: Performance (28 percent of the score); ease of operation (22 percent); features (22 percent); styling and design (17 percent); and cost (11 percent).
Only Apple and Microsoft received five-star ratings, compared to four stars for Samsung, and three each for Amazon and HP. LG, Acer, and Asus brought up the rear.
That customers are responding to the 2-in-1 form factor isn’t surprising to me. As I noted recently in Can Google and Apple Pull the Plug on the PC Market?, these devices are so popular that even mobile device makers like Apple and Google have jumped on board with their own Surface look-alikes. These devices are clearly the future of productivity PCs.
And customers love them. J.D. Power notes that hybrid tablets make everything better: Satisfaction is 11 points higher for hybrid tablets compared with non-hybrid devices, and satisfaction with features is significantly higher. Usage is higher, in particular with productivity apps such as Microsoft Office. And hybrid tablet users even download more apps.
Hybrid tablets have also resulted in higher average prices for the tablet market, and the average price of a hybrid tablet is $444, compared to just $277 for non-hybrids. Not surprisingly, Apple’s and Microsoft’s devices cost a lot more than that.
Interesting stuff, and a validation of sorts of Microsoft’s new premium strategy for Surface.