The difference between Apple and its competitors is that Apple’s customers and end-users are one and the same.
By now you’ve heard the adage that if you’re not paying for a product then you are the product; hence, Google’s true customers are advertisers. Microsoft’s situation is more muddled: Many of Microsoft’s customers are corporations that care more about cheap licensing and centralized management than user experience. When Microsoft sells a license to an OEM, the OEM is kind of a customer, as is the end user. I doubt OEMs would give Microsoft high customer satisfaction ratings, but maybe advertisers would give Google high marks.
Apple may not get the experience exactly right in every instance, but you at least know whose experience you’re getting: Apple’s. And that ownership of experience is part of what makes its customers so sat … isfied.
Highly recommended article from John Moltz at Macworld