The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of WRAL.com.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – For all the hype surrounding Apple and its products, the conventional wisdom would be that Macs and other Apple machines are the most reliable in the view of consumers.

Not so, says a new survey based on data from consumers.

Lenovo is No. 1 in a survey of the U.S. market, and Apple is down to No. 4 behind Toshiba as well as Samsung. Even further down the list are HP at No. 6 and Dell at No. 7.

That consumer data is just another reason why Lenovo, which operates its administrative headquarters in Morrisville, could become the world’s No. 1 PC manufacturer this year.

Last fall, the American Customer Satisfaction Index reported Apple as No. 1 with a score of 87 and an industry score of 78. Lenovo was lumped with “all others” at 77. HP scored 78 as did Dell.

But perhaps this year will be different.

HP (NYSE: HPQ) is No. 1 in PC sales – but by a 2 percent market share based on the latest statistics from IDC – and that company reported a disastrous fourth quarter on Wednesday. Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) reported a bad quarter itself earlier this week.

Apple continues to shine with a $500 per share stock price, but will that continue if Macs and other products are in fact becoming less reliable?

“Entering 2012, Lenovo/IBM’s rise in reliability will be an important boost for the company,” said David Milman, the chief executive officer of RescueCom, citing his company’s survey and referring to Lenovo’s purchase of IBM’s PC group in 2005.

“Although Apple’s market share has risen over the last 12 months, its reliability has declined,” he warned.

Scorecard

The scores in the new Computer Reliability Report:

1. Lenovo (281)
2. Toshiba (190)
3. Samsung (156)
4. Apple (151)
5. Asus (126)
6. HP/Compaq (100)
7. Dell (68)
8. Sony (64)
9. Acer (40)

Scores are based on the physical reliability of machines and support after the sale. RescueCom gathers data from users seeking tech support. The “score” is a mix of data based on sales and consumer calls.

“Over the years Lenovo/IBM has performed well on the RescueCom Reliability Report, while Dell, HP and Acer have suffered declines,” the company says.

Sales vs. Support Calls

While Lenovo has a 7.3 percent U.S. market share, its percentage of service calls was 2.6 percent.

Apple has an 11 percent share in the U.S. but 7.3 percent of calls.

HP is tops at market share (23.2 percent) and calls (23.3 percent).

Dell is at 22.6 percent share but a whopping 33.2 percent of calls.

Reliability surveys such as this one certainly can’t explain all the factors as to why some companies are surging and others are slipping in the PC wars. But it’s certainly one factor that seems to indicate Lenovo’s surging fortunes are not based just on a good marketing plan.

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