Survey: Apple back on top in US schools

After elbowing Apple Computer aside in 2000, Dell Computer has again fallen behind the Mac maker in the educational computing market, according to figures from Quality Education Data.

After elbowing Apple Computer aside in 2000, Dell Computer has again fallen behind the Mac maker in the educational computing market, according to figures from Quality Education Data, a provider of K-12 and higher-education market research.

According to QED, Apple will also hold onto the number one spot during the next school year.

QED's research found that Apple systems are twice as prevalent as other hardware in US public schools; these institutions maintain 2,727,018 to 3,236,798 Apple systems, compared with Dell's 1,240,420 to 1,572,042 systems and Compaq Computer Corp.'s 738,680 to 997,485.

For the 2001 to 2002 school year, QED estimates that US public schools will purchase 311,896 to 447,994 Macs compared with 203,808 to 270,500 Dell systems and 118,427 to 215,705 Compaq units.

In June 2000, Apple claimed dominance in the market, citing numbers provided by International Data Corp That report said Apple captured 26 percent of the US education market and 14 percent of the worldwide education market.

However, last October Dell announced that new market data from Dataquest confirmed it was No 1 in US education, ahead of all other Windows-based vendors and Apple. The sales ranking is determined not by total revenue but unit sales. Dataquest's numbers showed that Dell maintained a 5 percent lead over Apple for both the first and second quarter of 1999.

Jeanne Hayes, president of QED, admitted that tracking such figures can be a "tricky subject" and said last year's research did show Dell as the leader. Certainly, Dell is the leader among Windows-based suppliers of hardware when one looks at "intent to purchase for the 2000-2001 school year," she said.

"However, our latest findings predicting purchases for the 2001-2002 were just published, reflecting research conducted in May-June of 2001," Hayes told MacCentral. Those figures clearly place Apple in the top spot in both installed units and planned purchases. "We've been conducting our study with school districts for 15 years. This study reflects a sample survey of districts, typically a more accurate way to project these kinds of data."

Battle for schools
Apple has been fighting to regain its lead in the education market for the past nine months. Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in October 2000--just days before Dell's announcement of education sales dominance--that lower-than-expected educational sales stemmed from an ill-timed move to eliminate third-party sales reps and bring all education sales in-house.

"While doing this may have been smart, the timing wasn't," Jobs said at the time. "Our disappointing educational sales for the fourth quarter seem to be primarily caused by the sales-force transition. The next big education sales quarter begins in April 2001, and we intend to be ready to start regaining market share."

Just 12 days after Jobs' remarks, Apple announced that Cheryl Vedoe--a former vice president of Apple's Education Division--would rejoin the company as vice president of Education Marketing and Solutions.

In March, Apple announced it would buy PowerSchool, a provider of Web-based student information systems for K-12 schools and school districts. With PowerSchool, teachers can enter grades and attendance information, post homework assignments, map learning activities to standards, and monitor the progress of individual students or an entire class. Administrators and parents can also use the system to track performance and attendance.

Six weeks later, Jobs announced that Virginia's Henrico County Public Schools had purchased 23,000 iBooks, the largest-ever educational purchase of portable computers.

Jobs and Vedoe took Apple's education message on the road in June to the 22nd Annual National Educational Computing Conference in Chicago. Jobs gave his first-ever keynote at the event, reiterating Apple's commitment to education.

"We're in education not just because we want to make revenue and profits, although that's important, but because we give a damn, just like you guys," Jobs told the educators.