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Apple and Samsung take hits to their reputations

The Galaxy Note 7 debacle appears to have whacked Samsung's reputation, according to a new study. Apple's slippage has been more subtle.

Apple's corporate reputation has been in decline for a few years, according to one market researcher.
James Martin/CNET

The corporate reputations of phone rivals Samsung and Apple have taken a beating in the past year.

That's one of the takeaways from a study of companies' corporate reputations released Tuesday by the Reputation Institute. Samsung's ranking in the research firm's annual Global RepTrak 100 plummeted to No. 70 on the list from No. 17 the previous year. Apple, meanwhile, slid from No. 10 to No. 20 over the same period.

Reputation studies offer insight into how companies are viewed and trusted by consumers. The research and advisory firm's rankings are based on more than 170,000 ratings collected in the first quarter of 2017, including respondents' willingness to purchase a company's products, recommend the brand, invest in or even work for the company.

It wasn't immediately clear what might have triggered Apple's decline. Allen Bonde, the Reputation Institute's chief market officer, said the iPhone maker has been in steady decline since 2011, when it ranked No. 2 on the list.

"Apple still has an excellent reputation for its products and corporate performance, but as the perceptions of its governance and citizenship fade, the company is starting to take a hit when it comes to its overall corporate reputation," Bonde said.

But Samsung's dive in reputation should be no mystery to anyone familiar with the Galaxy Note 7. One of Samsung's most high-profile phones, the Note 7 blew up in the company's face last fall. The device suffered multiple recalls and bans by airlines before flickering out with a final "death update" that essentially bricks the remaining units in the wild.

Topping the 2017 rankings was luxury watchmaker Rolex, followed by toy maker Lego and entertainment giant Disney. But that didn't mean that all tech companies suffered the same experience as Samsung and Apple. The rankings' top 10 also included Google (No. 5), Sony (No. 7) and Intel (No. 8).

"Looking at top performers, it's clear that offering high quality products, standing behind them, and meeting customer needs is foundational to delivering on the brand promise," Bonde said in a statement. "But our data also shows that companies with a strong sense of purpose who are committed to improving on all dimensions of reputation -- especially governance and citizenship -- tend to be the most highly regarded."

Samsung declined to comment for this story. Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

First published Feb. 28 at at 7:44 a.m. PT.
Updated 12:48 p.m. PT: Added Samsung's no comment.

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