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Study: Apple beats Google as most likable company in the US

steve-jobs-holding-iphone-4-smileAmerica seems to be quite smitten with Apple despite the hit the company has taken with the recent Foxconn controversy. Apple shares continue to climb, notching above $500, and according to a new study, the company’s reputation beat out Google for the best corporate image in the country.

For 13 years, Harris Interactive has published its annual Reputation Quotient (RQ) study. The Harris poll draws from 17,555 people interviewed and surveys the reputations of the 60 most visible companies. RQ is comprised of 20 attributes which fold into 6 key dimensions which influence consumer behavior. The six dimensions used to measure RQ are: Social Responsibility, Emotional Appeal, Products & Services, Workplace Environment, Financial Performance and Vision & Leadership.

In the six reputation dimensions, Apple beat Google for #1 in Products & Services, as well as dominated the dimensions of Vision & Leadership, Financial Performance and Workplace Environment. In social responsibility, Apple took second place behind Whole Foods Market. The company also took fourth place in Emotional Appeal, behind Amazon, Kraft Foods and UPS.

Not only is Apple the belle of the image ranking ball, the company’s reputation score is unprecedented. In the 13-year history of Harris Interactive’s RQ study, Apple’s score of 85.62 is the highest Harris has seen among the most visible companies. Last years winner Google fell into the number two spot from 84.05 to 82.82. Amazon has jumped from rank eight to fourth; technology companies overall have enjoyed high public regard in the recent year.

The Apple company’s market cap, at $468 billion, is now more than $200 billion ahead of Microsoft, and still well ahead of Exxon’s $400 billion. Incidentally, Microsoft was ninth place in the reputation rankings with a 79.87, and ExxonMobil was at rank 51 with a score of 60.01. 

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As American as Apple’s pie?

Apples piece of the pie is tied to the confidence and high regard the masses seem to have for the tech industry overall. In the Harris poll, the technology industry had the highest in positive reputation ratings (76 percent), while government (10 percent) landed in last place behind the tobacco industry (11 percent).

Interestingly, confidence in Apple and the Technology industry comes as general trust in corporate leadership has eroded. An indicator of the negative mood is the low number of elite RQ scores; only eight companies earned an “excellent reputation” by scoring an 80 or above which is a 50 percent decrease from the previous year. Executive VP of Harris Interactive Robert Fronk said, “Corporations are facing significant headwinds as they try to win and preserve consumer trust.”

The Harris study points out that the industries that have the worst reputations are perceived by the public to be hurting the US harris RQ industrieseconomy. For example, 75 percent and 70 percent of Americans, respectively, perceive Banking and Financial Services to be part of the problem. Companies like AIG, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America have below 50 RQ scores. The industries at the top of the reputation rankings, such as Technology and Retail, tend to be seen as helping the ailing economy.

Apples’ possible contribution to the ailing US economy has been debated. Last month, the New York Times published an article questioning Apple job’s abroad, citing that almost all the “70 million iphones, 30 million iPads and 58 million other other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas; the NYT article topped the piece with a quote from Obama asking why the work couldn’t “come home.” However, Apple has been credited by TechNet’s CEO Rey Ramsey with America’s new and rapidly growing app economy. Nearly half a million US jobs have been created so far by the new economy, which according to Ramsey, “had zero jobs just five years ago before the iPhone was introduced.”