Hidden in among Apple’s chief operating officer Tim Cook’s speech to the Goldman Sachs Technology Investment Symposium was a critical barometer of Apple’s success – Apple beat Dell in laptop sales in the US higher education market.
While most reports focused on Cook’s optimism as regards iPhone sales this year, the executive also told analysts: "We just received word on Monday that Apple surpassed Dell as the number one supplier of portables to US higher education for 2007," Cook claimed.

"The ceiling for the Macs is nowhere in sight. Even if the market itself isn’t growing, for us, switching Windows users is an enormous opportunity," Cook also added.

This is a critical metric for Apple, which once dominated computing on college campuses.

In October 2007, analyst Toni Sacconaghi Jr. of Bernstein Research noted Apple to hold 29 per cent of the US market for notebooks in the most expensive fifth of the market, up from 8 per cent three years before that. In education, Apple took 46 per cent in the top tier slice of the market, the analyst explained.

In Europe, Apple seized the top spot in the education market in 2006, grabbing 15.2 per cent market share (desktop and laptop sales). In the last third quarter of 2007, Apple’s director of EMEA education markets, Herve Marchet, confirmed it took 19.6 per cent marketshare in Europe’s education sector.

Cook’s claims remain anecdotal at this point, as neither Garner nor IDC have yet publically released figures detailing Apple’s slice of the US education market, but it’s unlikely the Apple executive would deliberately mislead Goldman Sachs.

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