Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

J.D. Power Satisfaction Survey Reveals J.D. Power Is Unsatisfactory

J.D. Power made waves yesterday when they announced that Samsung trounced Apple for the first time in their tablet satisfactory rankings. Obviously, I base my entire buying strategy on what J.D. Power says I should buy and neglect my own feelings towards product quality, interface design, and software ecosystem. So, naturally, I had to take a look at what their rankings showed.

J.D. Power has six ranking categories, graded between two and five “power circles” (I don’t understand why it starts at two): performance, ease of use, physical design, tablet features, cost, and overall satisfaction. The iPad scored five circles for every category except cost, where it scored two. Samsung scored a mix of three and four circles in every category except overall satisfaction, where it scored five.

At first glance, this would suggest that Apple should have won. Five shiny gold power circles in nearly every category, as opposed to Samsung’s middling mix of scores.

J.D. Power doesn’t use an overall average, because that would be kind of stupid (cost probably shouldn’t weigh as much as ease of use, for instance). So they give each category a weighted score.

Category Apple Samsung Weight
Performance 5 3 26%
Ease of Use 5 3 22%
Physical Design 5 4 19%
Features 5 4 17%
Cost 2 4 16%
Weighted Total Average 4.52 of 5 possible 3.52 of 5 possible

That’s funny — the Apple score is miles ahead of the Samsung score. Maybe I should check the fine print?

Please note that jdpower.com Ratings may not include all information used to determine J.D. Power & Associates awards.

Information like “does it have a Samsung badge on it”?

The press release is kind of funny, too:

The 2013 U.S. Tablet Satisfaction Study–Volume 2 is based on experiences evaluated by 3,375 tablet owners who have owned their current device for less than one year. The study was fielded between March and August 2013. […]

Overall customer satisfaction with tablet devices is 821 (on a 1,000-point scale). […]

Samsung ranks highest with a score of 835 and is the only manufacturer to improve across all five factors since the previous reporting period in April 2013. Samsung showed particularly strong improvement in the cost factor (25-point increase). Apple ranks second scoring 833 and performs particularly well in performance and ease of operation.

I don’t know where that 1,000-point scale comes from. I also don’t know who at J.D. Power thinks a difference of two points on a thousand-point scale in a sample size of 3,375 is statistically significant (it isn’t).

That was quite a lot of words to say that this poll is entirely meaningless.