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Kārlis Dambrāns/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed

Did Samsung actually beat Apple in customer satisfaction?

Two things, among others: the iPhone 6 and the Galaxy S5.


AJ Dellinger


Posted on Jan 2, 2015   Updated on May 29, 2021, 8:51 pm CDT

The ongoing rivalry between Apple and Samsung has been stoked plenty in the last few days. Apple fanboys scored a huge log to toss on the fire with statistics showing the Cupertino company blew away the competition this holiday season. Now Samsung loyalists have their own numbers to fight back with: According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), Samsung has passed Apple in customer satisfaction.

In the “Cellular Telephones” category, Apple fell from the top spot of the ACSI survey, dropping 2.5 percent to 79 percent satisfaction overall. Samsung leapfrogged Apple into the top spot, gaining 6.6 percent to reach 81 percent approval. Of course, neither number is bad and both keep Apple and Samsung the top dogs in the industry as far as happy phone owners go.

The drop off for Apple would make sense given the rough launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, accompanied by controversies that may well have been overblown. And that was just part of Apple’s rough year, which also included the iCloud hack that led to Celebgate and the device-breaking iOS 8.0.1 update.

But don’t go running to the forums thinking you have new ammunition in hand, Samsung lovers. The data doesn’t account for Apple’s latest release—the numbers from ACSI’s survey are from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014. A press release from ACSI dated all the way back to May 10, 2014 contained the original data point of Samsung bypassing Apple.

“Other outlets saw that article and are taking it as a new report. We’re trying to correct where possible.”

“While Apple still sells nearly twice the number of smartphones in the United States as its nearest competitor, Samsung now comes out on top in one critical metric—customer satisfaction. Samsung surges 7 percent to an ACSI score of 81, beating Apple in overall customer satisfaction for the first time,” reads the release.

This means the iPhone 6 wasn’t on the list of phones surveyed. For all of Apple’s troubles in 2014, that handset was about as big of a boost as a company could ask for, setting a record for first weekend sales by topping the 10 million mark. Samsung’s Galaxy S5 wasn’t on the list of devices either but the phone tanked hard in sales, falling 40 percent below its forecasted numbers.

Apple still led Samsung in overall customer satisfaction as a company and won in the tablet market. J.D. Power also awarded Apple the top spot in customer satisfaction in a survey conducted between September 2013 and February 2014, a roughly similar time period as the ASCI’s.

Why has this report from the ASCI with outdated information resurfaced? “We provided MarketWatch with a list of how companies performed in 2014,” explained Amanda Roberts of Kearns & West, the communication firm that represents ASCI. The list contained the customer satisfaction scores of every company surveyed by the organization in 2014. ASCI releases its data for different sectors at different times of the year, the list given to MarketWatch was simply a compilation of it all.

“The data is the same, but the comparison to all companies measured by ACSI this year was not available. Other outlets saw that article and are taking it as a new report. We’re trying to correct where possible,” Roberts said.

So yes, for at least a period of time between the fourth quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014, Samsung did surpass Apple in customer satisfaction according to the ASCI. A lot has changed since that data was first made available. While opportune fanboys likely wielded this data in their online battles as soon as it was available, the recent rehashing of the numbers is not relevant to either company’s performance through most of 2014. 

Photo via Kārlis Dambrāns/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed


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*First Published: Jan 2, 2015, 1:07 pm CST