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Dell knocks Apple off top education spot – just

Will the iBook do the same to Dell?

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Having knocked long-time market leader Compaq off the top PC sales slot in the US, Dell this week followed its success by de-throning a second market leader: Apple. According to Dataquest, during the first six months of 1999, Dell sold more computers to North American educational institutions than Apple did. Dell's lead over the Mac maker is a mere five per cent, so the direct vendor really can't get to cocky about Dataquest's stats. Since June, Apple has announced and begun shipping the iBook portable and new, faster iMacs, both aimed as much at education as the consumer space, and a good run of sales through the rest of the year could easily see its sales surpassing Dell's. Still, it's a tough knock for Apple. As sales to more mainstream markets have dwindled, Apple could always say that at the very least it still leads the way in the education and design markets. It's share of the education market has been shrinking for some time, but the launch of the iMac helped it regain some lost ground. Dataquest's numbers, however, show the company simply can't take the market for granted. At least the design biz appears safe -- the long-anticipated shift towards Windows NT has singularly failed to materialise, and there's no real sign the design community is shifting to more mainstream Windows systems to any significant extent. But losing control of the education market, even if Apple gets it back, is a blow, and the Mac maker is going to have to work harder to gain ground here. Curiously, the Dell news comes hard on the heels of rumours that Apple's education customers will soon only be able to deal with the company directly. In a terse message to one Register reader, Steve Jobs said simply: "This rumor is totally false." Given Dell's success here, we wonder if Jobs may now change his mind... ®

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