Computer Reliability Statistics – How Reliable Are They? You Decide.

Last week I wrote two articles about how Computerworld had been the victim of fraudulent information, provided by one of their contributors, whom they subsequently terminated. Today I was reading an article about computer reliability in which the author was questioning the methodology and data that previously has been reported by Rescuecom Corporation, in which they had stated that these brands were reliable according to their data:

  1. Apple (AAPL)
  2. Asus (AKCIF)
  3. IBM/Lenovo (LNVGY)
  4. Toshiba (TOSBF)
  5. HP/Compaq (HPQ)

I found this interesting because I had previously reported this data in an article I wrote. Which brings me to question just how accurate any data about reliability really is?

In the article it states the following information:

So what’s the problem? The results are meaningless, given the methodology. According to Rescuecom president Josh Kaplan, the company looked at a sample of 69,900 support calls it received from its clients in 2009. It then looked at the machine that was the subject of the calls, and compared the percentage breakout to the U.S. personal computer market share data (percentage share of computers shipped) from market researcher IDC. However, there are a few major problems:

  • The company doesn’t have support contracts with users. They simply provide support for people who call.
  • Rescuecom assumes that the calls come in a breakdown proportionate to the computer-buying public as a whole.
  • Rescuecom compares its numbers to market share numbers for people who bought computers in the country last year.
  • They assume that every call for support indicates a problem with the computer, even if the software and hardware are functioning as designed and a user misunderstood how to do something.

It’s not that the Rescuecom people are trying to pull one over on the public. I think they’re sincere. Unfortunately, misunderstandings of statistics are as rampant in the high tech industry as they are anywhere, and journalists should get a lot smarter about what they read in press releases.

So who should we trust when it comes to accurate data about computer reliability? I recently received the 2010 buying guide from Consumer Reports. The report basically supports the findings of Rescuecom. But just how reliable is this data from Consumer Reports?

So my question for you is this. Who do you trust to provide accurate data on the reliability of computers?

Let us know what you think.

Comments welcome.