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Microsoft No. 9 in Corporate Reputation, Apple Claims Top Spot

According to the latest corporate reputation survey by market researcher Harris Interactive, Apple has surpassed Google to become the U.S. company with the best reputation.

Harris Interactive uses a metric it calls the "reputation quotient," or RQ, to measure how Americans regard the most visible companies in the United States. The research firm asked more than 17,000 people to rate companies based on 20 attributes that comprise the RQ. These attributes fall into six categories: financial performance, products and services, vision and leadership, emotional appeal, workplace environment, and social responsibility.

An RQ higher than 80 is considered "excellent." In the 2012 survey, Apple scored an RQ of 85.62, the highest score ever recorded by any company in the survey's 13-year history. Apple improved its score this year from 2011's RQ of 82.05, which placed the company in fifth place.

According to a statement from Harris Interactive on Monday announcing the survey's findings, Apple "greatly from its hybrid status as a technology/consumer product/retail company." Essentially, Apple straddles two industries -- technology and retail -- that Americans consider bright spots in the current economy. Survey respondents ranked Apple the No. 1 company in the areas of products and services, vision and leadership, financial performance, and workplace environment (despite recent reports of poor working conditions in Apple's factories overseas). It was also ranked the No. 2 company in the category of social responsibility.

Apple's rise in the survey's rankings means last year's No. 1 company, Google, has been bumped down to No. 2. The Internet search and advertising giant scored an RQ of 82.82, down from 84.05 in 2011. Survey respondents gave Google high marks in the areas of products and services, workplace environment, financial performance, and vision and leadership.

Making a return to the top 10 this year is Microsoft, which earned an RQ of 79.87, down slightly from last year's RQ of 80.16. Nevertheless, Microsoft's RQ was enough to place it 9th in the survey, compared to its 16th-place finish in 2011. The company ranked fourth in the category of workplace environment and was named one of the companies survey respondents would be most likely to invest in.

Technology firms were generally viewed more favorably than other companies, due to the public's perception that companies in the technology industry are key contributors to any future economic improvement. A total 76 percent of survey respondents rated the technology industry's reputation as "positive." The next-closest industry, travel and tourism, drew a "positive" rating from only a 58 percent of respondents.

Following are the technology companies listed in 2012's survey and their RQs:

1. Apple (85.62)
2. Google (82.82)
4. Amazon.com (81.92)
9. Microsoft (79.87)
11. Sony (79.22)
13. Samsung (78.11)
23. IBM (75.11)
32. Hewlett-Packard (73.41)
36. Dell (72.59)

A summary of Harris Interactive's 2012 "Annual RQ Public Summary Report" is available here (PDF).

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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