apple finderApple’s resurgence and campaigns like "back-to-school" free iPods for students to buy its laptops and desktop computers appear to have increased its market share in education, according to new figures from research consultancy Gartner. The latest findings reveal that Apple now accounts for 23.2 per cent of all computers, including servers, sold in the European education sector, making the company Europe’s number one PC manufacturer in that market. In the UK the market share is even hgher – 26.1 per cent (UK table below).

Desktop and notebook sales in the UK were 70,039 for the fourth quarter of 2009 (26.6 per cent of UK education market share), up from 37,009 (15.3 per cent) in the same period in 2008, a jump of 10.96 per cent of the total.

While seeing off competition from other schools ICT suppliers such as RM (which also sells Macs), Viglen, Toshiba, Hewlett Packard and Dell to reach the number one spot is no doubt good news for Apple, like all  research, Gartner's is open to interpretation. Without taking away any of Apple’s thunder or denying that its products are making serious inroads into schools and colleges, the findings also reveal the enormity of the company'challenge - that Windows PCS are still massively favoured.

'I'm a Mac' in six-on-to-one market struggle

The Garter figures look at single computer suppliers. And here it's Apple against the rest - and they are all suppliers of Windows PCs. So it's a bit like the "I'm a Mac" advert,  but with MacMan facing off a gang of six "I'm a PC" merchants. Of the 7,434,189 computers and servers shipped Europe-wide in the past 8 quarters, more than 6 million were PCs compared to just over 1 million Macs.

Here in the UK, across those eight quarters Apple sold 293,998 computers against 1,139203. Looking at quarter-by-quarter performance Apple has moved from 17.5 per cent in the UK's first quarter to 26.1 percent for the current quarter, a dramatic enough increase. But Apple was the clear leader of those suppliers accross all quarters - this is no flash in the pan.

It's not just good news for Apple in the UK. RM, Toshiba and Viglen all showed showed healthy increases, while performance was not so rosy for Acer, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Fujitsu. And newcomer Asus' dramatic entry with its netbooks is faithfully recorded for the fourth quarter of 2008 (24,289). That may have been the peak but the presence continues.

Gartner's UK findings below
Apple UK sales data