Amazon & Apple have the best reputations in tech, but Microsoft beats Google in Harris poll

Amazon & Apple have the best reputations in tech, but Microsoft beats Google in Harris poll

Summary: Amazon, Coco-Cola and Apple are the US companies with the best reputations, according to the 15th annual Harris Poll, and this is important when 60 percent consider a company's behavior before doing business with it

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Amazon has topped the latest Harris poll on the reputations of America's 60 most visible companies, followed by Coca-Cola, Apple, Walt Disney, and Honda. While technology companies scored best on the list -- ahead of Travel and Tourism -- Google's reputation took a significant hit, dropping it below Microsoft and Sony.

In the 2012 poll, Google scored 82.82 and was second only to Apple. Last year, Google was down to fourth with 81.32. In the 2014 poll, it tumbled to 14th with a rating of 78.38. This took it out of the Excellent class (80 and above) and into Very Good (75-79). By contrast, Microsoft's rating improved from 76.46 in 2013 to 80.11 this year.

Apple's reputation has also been in decline, though it is still one of the most admired companies in the US. It topped the poll in 2012 with a rating of 85.62, fell to second last year with 82.54, and to third place this year with 81.76.

Other tech companies in the 2014 poll include Samsung (80.65), Sony (79.77), IBM (74.70), HP (74.07), Dell (72.93), and Facebook (69.61).

Bank of America placed bottom (55.34), behind BP (57.00), Monsanto (57.27) and Halliburton (57.29).

Harris polled 18,000 American adults for its 15th annual survey of corporate reputations, with the 60 considered "most visible" rated in six categories: emotional appeal, financial performance, products and services, social responsibility, vision and leadership, and workplace environment.

Amazon came top in three categories, and was in the top five in five categories. Apple appeared in the top five in four categories, Microsoft in three categories, and Google in none. Only Coca-Cola made all six.

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There's one obvious threat to company reputations, and perhaps to tech companies in particular: privacy concerns. Harris asked people to agree or disagree with the statement that "I am concerned about the increasing amount of personal information companies capture about their customers these days," and 76 percent agreed or strongly agreed. Only 8 percent disagreed.

Harris also tested the statement: "Overall, I trust companies to act responsibly when it comes to using all the private data they have on consumers." In this case, 44 percent agreed, but 34 percent somewhat or strongly disagreed.

As Harris puts it: "Overall, more than three-quarters (76 percent) of the general public is concerned about the amount of private information companies capture about their customers and less than half (44 percent) trust companies to act responsibly with such information." This is hardly a ringing endorsement, but at least the 2014 score improved on 2013.

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All the illustrations above have been taken from the 2014 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient study of The Reputations of the Most Visible Companies. Harris Interactive is now owned by Nielsen.

Reputation is important. Harris reports that 60 percent of people say they research companies before doing business with them, and "six in ten decided NOT to do business with a company based upon something they learned about the company's conduct."

Otherwise, Harris points out that corporate reputations are improving after a bad spell, and the 2014 numbers are better than the ones from 2008. "Equally telling," says Harris, "for the first time since 2007, no company achieved an RQ score of below 50, the score at which a company's reputation is considered to be in a critical stage."

The 2014 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient study of The Reputations of the Most Visible Companies (PDF) can be downloaded from Nielsen's website.

Topics: Tech Industry, Apple, Google, Microsoft

Jack Schofield

About Jack Schofield

Jack Schofield spent the 1970s editing photography magazines before becoming editor of an early UK computer magazine, Practical Computing. In 1983, he started writing a weekly computer column for the Guardian, and joined the staff to launch the newspaper's weekly computer supplement in 1985. This section launched the Guardian’s first website and, in 2001, its first real blog. When the printed section was dropped after 25 years and a couple of reincarnations, he felt it was a time for a change....

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25 comments
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  • Sorry Google

    That's what you get for working with the NSA and stealing our information. Look at your massive rank decline since 2012. Lol.
    Zig1994
  • Sorry Google

    That's what you get for working with the NSA and stealing our information. Look at your massive rank decline since 2012. Lol.
    Zig1994
  • Sorry Google

    That's what you get for working with the NSA and stealing our information. Look at your massive rank decline since 2012. Lol.
    Zig1994
    • Are you having a stroke Zig1994

      ?
      FrankInKy
      • ZDStroke

        It is called ZDStroke.
        1. Write comment.
        2. Press submit
        3. Nothing happens.
        4. Press submit again X times
        5. X+1 comments appear
        6. ZDStroke!
        paul2011
    • Kinda forgot Microsoft stealing...

      ""Certainly, the Bing technology has been the key to us learning how to do large-scale data centers," Gates said. "And Bing lets us see what's going on the Internet, so that as people are interested in various topics, we know what's new, we know when they're typing text what it might mean."

      So, no privacy there.

      http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9248132/Gates_would_back_Xbox_spin_off
      jessepollard
      • You're running scared, Jesse

        really quite amusing to watch, to be honest.

        You gonna' perform some circus tricks next?
        William.Farrel
      • Jeeez.

        That's how you interpret things?
        Google and Apple are probably the biggest manipulation of user data. Google loves to bugger up privacy issues [added Google+ account without warning you, electronically read your Email to be used for ads, ...]. Apple isn't too far off [Siri date kept for 2 years for "test" data, ...].
        Gisabun
  • Amazon & Apple have the best reputations in tech, but Microsoft beats Googl

    Not too surprising considering Microsoft is a customer focused company so they need to have a good reputation. Google on the other hand is just the opposite where they focus on tech and not customers plus with word getting out about their data mining practices and spying they should probably be lower on the list.
    Loverock.Davidson
  • Google is ad delivery company

    Google is ad delivery company and people are slowly getting it. Search, all other services, android and chrome are all designed to get as many users as they can and show them ads. Free stuff+ ads. That is their simple business model that works now.
    Other technologies like driverless cars or google glass are just too far away. They may be profitable in the future but for now Google is ad delivery network disguised as technology company.
    paul2011
  • Amazon Tech?

    I consider Amazon more of a retailer than tech company. Sure they have cloud services and a tablet but does that make money for them? If someone would have asked me, I would rate them high also but it would be based on all the satisfied purchases I have made over the years.
    thekman58
    • Amazon has GREAT customer support ...

      on everything including their cloud service. And that is why they rank very high. Same with Apple.

      Google on the other hand has the worst customer support on EVERYTHING. Just ask people with Nexus brand devices. Google only cares about how to collect data from the users and monetize it.
      wackoae
  • Funny, but....

    people are choosing more and more Google products over Microsoft.
    VictorWho
    • Android phones don't replace PCs.

      Other than search engines, Office and Windows have a MASSIVE lead over Drive and Chrome OS.

      Even IE has a larger market-share than Chrome.
      ForeverCookie
      • No, but Android PCs are...

        As are chromebooks.
        jessepollard
        • Android PCs, and Chromebooks? Two virtually invisible products?

          Replacing PCs?

          What planet would that be happening at? No on this one, for certain.
          adornoe@...
          • It's called Planet Jesse

            Where all news is bad for MS, and of course Chromebooks have 90% of the desktop market....
            William.Farrel
        • Didn't you read what I said?

          "Office and Windows have a MASSIVE lead over Drive and Chrome OS."

          Chrome OS = Chromebook

          There are a lot more machines out there running Windows than there are Android devices and Chromebooks combined.
          ForeverCookie
    • And G+ is still ghost town

      Choosing Google products?? LOL
      LBiege
    • That's funny.

      Actually, I have seen the opposite. Outside of Maps (which is very good) and Search (eahhh) people are turning to other products which give a better UI/UX. Google's UX is horrible.
      ScanBack