U.S. consumers pick MacBook as their preferred next laptop

Apple squeaks out a win over Dell as the laptop brand most likely to be purchased in the next 60 days

American consumers named Apple as the most likely brand of their next notebook purchase, but a resurgent Dell easily captured future honors for desktop PCs, according to a survey published today.

The findings from U.K.-based YouGov and its BrandIndex polling on purchase plans pegged Apple as the top-vote-getting laptop brand, named by 26% of the eligible U.S. consumers. Apple's notebooks include the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lines.

Apple's 26%, an average of the scores received in the quarterly surveys so far in 2013, was down from 2012's and 2011's higher 28%.

In notebooks, Dell and HP followed in second and third place, with 22% and 20% of the vote, respectively.

On the desktop side -- which by IDC's estimates, will account for about 42% of total PC sales worldwide in 2013 -- Dell won 35% of the votes as the brand for purchases planned in the next six months.

HP took second place with 26%, while Apple won just 17% of the desktop votes.

Lenovo, which by IDC's shipment estimate was the world's biggest PC maker, garnered just 4% of the future laptop purchases and only 1% of planned desktop buys in YouGov's poll.

There's clearly a difference between YouGov's forecast of planned purchases and industry research firms' estimates of personal computer shipments to the U.S. In large part that's because YouGov only solicits consumers' opinions, while actual shipments include not only systems aimed at consumers, but also businesses.

And businesses buy the bulk of PCs.

Nor was YouGov able to confirm or contradict the trends that others have highlighted for over a year now -- that personal computer sales in the U.S. have stalled.

Last month, IDC calculated that U.S. personal computer sales in the second quarter, which ended June 30, were down 2%. Some computer manufacturers, naturally, did better or worse than the average. Apple, for example, was down half a percentage point year-over-year, while HP's domestic shipments declined by 4%.

Winners included Dell, which was up 6% over the same quarter the year before, and Lenovo, whose shipments to the U.S. climbed nearly 20%.

"Apple has an edge, in that it identifies an entire class by itself," said Ted Marzilli, the global manager for BrandIndex, a brand awareness and consumer perception service. "All the rest are part of the larger PC ecosystem."

Apple also likely benefits in future purchase polls, said Marzilli, because the company's ad awareness -- how many respondents say they've seen a brand's advertising in the past two weeks -- of nearly 30% was almost double that of Dell and HP.

Apple last refreshed a notebook line in June when it unveiled new MacBook Air laptops packing Intel's latest Core processor, dubbed "Haswell," that boosted battery longevity claims by as much as 80%.

Most pundits expect Apple to debut new MacBook Pro laptops before the start of the holiday selling season.

Laptop purchase plans chart
In the July 1-Aug. 13 span, Apple was the preferred brand for U.S. consumers who said they planned to buy a notebook computer in the next 60 days, but Dell was very close behind. (Image: BrandIndex.)

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at  @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

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