Over the past year Apple has seen real success in the education market.

In the UK Apple has just overtaken Dell to take the number two position in the education market (behind Research Machines).

In Europe Apple took the number one position back in February. It is now number one for the whole of the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) territory.

In the US, sales to the education market are growing rapidly. “Our education channel had an outstanding quarter, selling a record number of Macs, driving 20 per cent year-over-year growth,” said Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer in a conference call with analysts recently.

“It was the most successful back-to-school quarter ever for our higher ed business, where shipments of Mac portables increased 49% year over year,” he added.

Macworld caught up with Hervé Marchet, Apple’s director of education, EMEA, to discuss Apple education strategy in that region.

In focus

Marchet told Macworld: “We have been really focused on education for the past five years, and for the past two years even more so.”

He explained that one of the strategies for Apple’s education team has been to get teachers onboard right at the start, when they are being trained. “The real focus has been making sure that we influence the teacher,” he said.

“We have focused on teacher training centres, where teachers get trained. After two years we have around 60 of these centres equipped with Macs. We have thousands of teachers going through a course where they see the Apple platform and Apple product.

“On these courses we talk about how to use the technology in the classroom. The way to do that is to give examples,” he added.

To further communicate its message to educators, Apple also holds the Apple Teacher Training Institute, a three-day course that run across Europe twice a year. “All together we have 150-200 people attending this Apple event where they share their experiments and course work,” said Marchet.

Hedging your BETTs

Apple has also made it its strategy to attend all the relevant education shows, explained Marchet. “We are present at BETT and at SETT, through our Apple Solution Experts. It is part of our strategy to spread the Apple web across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Of course, there is another significant group that Apple has to raise awareness with if they are to be considered for use within schools. The politicians. “We have met with all of the key players from the local education authorities,” Marchet explained, “to raise brand awareness and make sure they have a total understanding of the value of our products, and of their uses.”

It’s not just schools that Apple is seeking space inside. The higher education market is one that Apple has traditionally been involved with, but over the past year the company has stepped the drive up a notch.

“Originally we had one point of contact in a University that understood the Mac platform within the university. For the past year we have had a dedicated sales force who have been tasked with getting to know more people within the universities, many in our team are former educators,” explained Marchet.

“What we did was in two waves; we went after the students as they need to be equipped 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Secondly, we contacted IT departments and spoke with the Deans about solutions like streaming servers, web mail, things that open new doors to us at the University.” The outreach has been incredibly successful, “We now have contracts with more than 80 universities,” said Marchet.

Podcasting matters

One application, Podcasting, is particularly driving adoption within both schools and universities. Marchet spoke about how Apple is spreading the message about what can be done within the medium of podcasting: “We have a dedicated podcasting team and “We have a podcast training centre at Apple offering a one-day training course to universities where we talk about podcasting and how it can be used for their subject in the university.”

He continued: “One thing that not many have thought about yet is how podcasting can be used by educational institutions to communicate to potential students about the courses. There is a major opportunity to film lectures and university life and use this as an excellent way of communicating to potential students.

Marchet concluded by summing up why he believes Apple has seen such success in the education market. "It is the total solution from our hardware, MacBooks to iMacs, and our software, iLife, Mac OS X, and GarageBand, that enhances the learning process. Innovative and intuitive products that teachers and students just love."