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The good news for Apple keeps piling up. Earlier this year the company moved into the number three spot in the US PC market, it recorded stellar figures in a customer satisfaction survey, and now a new report says it has the highest brand loyalty among PC vendors.

While Apple largely missed out on the growth of the PC market during the 1990s as shown by its declining market share figures, it has always been the beneficiary of strong customer loyalty.

More recently, the so called "halo effect" from the iPod and iPhone, plus the "I'm a Mac" ads have contributed to an Apple resurgence. What's more the company has managed to deliver good profits at the same time as improving its market share, in part by staying out of the bargain basement.

Gartner's estimates for the second quarter of 2008 gave Apple an 8.5 percent market share, behind Dell and HP, but slightly ahead of Acer.

Since Gartner's "PC" category includes x86-based servers, its numbers most likely underestimate Apple's strength in desktop and notebook computers. While Apple does offer the Xserve, Dell and HP sell servers in huge numbers.

The most recent American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) compiled by the University of Michigan's National Quality Research Centre gave Apple a market leading score of 85 - the highest ever recorded for a company in the personal computer industry.

Second-place Dell only managed 75, and that 10-point difference between Apple and Dell was one of the largest between first and second in any industry measured by ACSI.

And now a new report from MetaFacts shows Apple customers' brand loyalty is at an all time high. How high? See page two.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences, a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies, and is a senior member of the Australian Computer Society.

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