Quality Illusions

Why do the perceptions of “quality” in notebook PCs vary so much? People love brands. Many Apple fans insist that because Apple is such a stickler for control, its notebooks are therefore much higher “quality” than others. The truth is that most branded notebooks are manufactured mainly by a small group of Taiwanese OEMs such as Quanta, Compal, Wistron, Inventec, and ASUSTek.

The quality difference between brand models tends to be determined by which OEM did which production run. Dell sources its notebooks from a variety of OEMs so Dells’ notebook range quality tends to exhibit a wide distribution. Apple gets pretty much all its notebooks from Quanta, so its quality spread is narrower and more predictable. That is to say, some Apple runs from QUanta will fall below the industry mean, and some above, but the perception of their individual quality levels will be consistently tighter than Dell. Psychologically of course, people tend to remember bad experiences over good, and exceptional experiences over average, so it’s possible than in real brand terms having a wider “normal” distribution of average quality machines actually ends up making your “acceptable” performance invisible in wider terms.
For the record:

  • The main customers of Quanta are HP, Dell, Acer and Apple.
  • The main customers of Compal are Dell, HP, Toshiba and Acer.
  • The main customers of Inventec are HP and Toshiba.
  • The main customers of Wistron are HP, Acer and Lenovo.
  • The main customers of ASUSTeK are Toshiba and Dell.


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