RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Lenovo’s plans to target consumers for laptops and PCs could get a boost from a new reliability report.

Rescuecom, a nationwide provider of computer tech support, rates Lenovo second to Apple in its second annual analysis of calls from customers. Lenovo was ranked first and Apple second in the 2006 survey as Lenovo was absorbing IBM’s personal computing business that it had purchased the previous year.

“Lenovo certainly has kept up the quality it inherited from IBM,” Rescuecom’s Chief Executive Officer David Milman told The Skinny.” It seems like Lenovo has kept in place IBM’s quality process.”

Lenovo is gearing up to drive sales to consumers worldwide. The company, which has its headquarters in Morrisville, is locked in a tight battle with Acer for third place behind HP and Dell in global PC sales.

The reliability ratings were based on 46,000 service calls to Rescuecom, which is based in Syracuse, N.Y. but has franchise operations around the country. Its “Reliability Score” is based on the U.S. market share in computers and the percentage of service calls made to Rescuecom. The higher the score, the fewer number of service calls made.

The 2007 rankings, with 2006 rankings in parentheses are:

1. Apple, 357 (201)
2. Lenovo, 236 (243)
3. HP, 126 (12)
4. Gateway, 103 (-12)
5. Dell, 94 (4)
6. Others, 79 (-16)

Rescuecom utilized data from analysis firm IDC for U.S. market share with Apple at 5 percent and Lenovo at 4.5 percent. Dell is the leader at 32.3 percent followed by HP at 21 percent and Gateway at 6 percent.

Dell fell to fifth from fourth place, a reflection of the company’s continuing problems that led to founder Michael dell’s decision to return to the CEO chair, Milman said.

“Dell continues to struggle,” he said. “Years ago, Dell made decisions to shift support offshore. You can’t be enthused about that.”

Milman also noted that some Dell customers have been angered by long waits for parts covered by warranty. Rescuecom has found it easier and faster to buy parts that are in stock rather than wait five weeks to obtain them under warranty, he explained.

Apple, meanwhile, continued to get high marks for reliability.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” Milman said of Apple’s ranking. “They build enough profit into their margin. Steve Jobs is fantastic on form and function, and Apple gets it right.”