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Apple rebuts Dell's claim to education top spot

It may still be number one, but Apple's own figures aren't inspiring either

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Riled by Dell's assertion that it had knocked Apple off the top US education PC vendor throne, the Mac maker yesterday claimed the direct supplier had got its sums wrong. Citing IDC numbers -- Dell used stats from Dataquest -- Apple claimed that it was still number one in the second calendar quarter of 1999, with a 22.2 per cent share of the market. Dell came in fourth with 15.8 per cent, behind Compaq (19.1 per cent) and Gateway (17.2 per cent). Dell said it had a 21 per cent share in Q2, having already overtaken Apple in Q1. It's interesting that Apple's rebuttal fails to provide figures for Q1. Apple said that Dell's numbers failed to include Apple's direct sales channel, focusing instead on reseller-driven shipments -- ironic given Dell's role as the doyen of direct PC sales. Of course, anyone can play the numbers game, and when one market researcher puts out some figures, you can usually a second market researcher with numbers that tell a slightly different story. Still, since both Dataquest and IDC invariably come up with comparable stats, we suspect Apple may have a point here. That said, even IDC's numbers show that Apple doesn't have the commanding position it once did, and if Dell isn't biting at its heels, there are some equally tough competitors who are. Its lead over Compaq was just 3.1 per cent -- less then the five per cent lead Dell claimed it had over Apple. The new iMacs and the iBook may improve Apple's position, but, as we said when we originally covered Dell's claims, the Mac maker really can't afford to get cocky here. ®

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