Survey: Mac laptops in high demand for higher ed

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In the next month or so, students will leave behind swimming pools, beaches, and other settings of summer fun to head back to school. And when they arrive on campus, a large chunk of those students will tote new Mac laptops—at least according to a new survey conducted by a research firm focusing on higher education.

The study, conducted by Student Monitor, polled 1,200 full-time four-year undergraduates in the U.S. and found that the 84 percent who plan to purchase a computer in the next 12 months will buy a notebook. Among that group of students, 43 percent plan to buy a Mac.

That figure is nearly double Apple's closet competition, according to the Student Monitor survey. Among students planning to buy a notebook in the next 12 months, 22 percent said they would buy one from Dell, followed by Sony (8 percent), HP (6 percent), and Gateway (3 percent).

The Mac's popularity may not be that much of a surprise given Apple's reputation for thriving in the education market. In its most recent quarter, Apple’s education division saw its best quarter ever for K-12 sales as well as well as the best June quarter for higher education Mac sales.

Still, the numbers in the most recent Student Monitor survey mark something of a turnaround for Apple from recent trends noted by the research firm. Three years ago, Dell was the preferred laptop maker among college students, with 46 percent of those surveyed planning to buy a Dell machine. In contrast, just 17 percent were planning on buying a Mac.

It’s not just the laptops that are making the difference for Apple’s resurgence among higher education students, Student Monitor says. The company's entire product line is appealing to students."

“Apple computers seem to have a cachet with college students that other brands of computer don’t have and this cachet has been re-enforced by students’ adoption of iTunes, iPhone, and iPod,” Eric Weil, managing partner at Student Monitor, told Macworld.

While notebooks clearly make up the majority of intended purchases for students, there are still a number of students that will purchase desktops. In this category, Dell leads the way, according to Student Monitor's survey. But Apple is gaining ground.

In 2008, 31 percent of desktop buyers plan to purchase a Dell desktop, while 19 percent will buy a Mac. Gateway and HP round out the list with 3 percent each.

In 2005, Dell lead the desktop segment with 39 percent intent to purchase, with Apple was in second place at 12 percent. HP had 16 percent and Gateway had 9 percent.

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