Apple's fortunes in the education sector may be set for a rebound, with a trend favouring notebooks and the best sales to US colleges and universities in seven years.

Though Mac sales to schools fell 15 per cent year-on-year in its fourth quarter, a survey by Quality Education Data conducted in October 2003 predicts that Macs could account for 30 per cent of computers acquired by secondary schools across the US. Dell accounts for 37 per cent of predicted sales.

The reason for Apple's resurgence is the clear trend toward notebooks in US education: while Dell dominates desktops, Apple is consolidating its notebook lead.

A Business Week report looks at how Apple lost its dominance in US education, and its strategies to regain market share. These have included raising Apple's profile at education events, reduced prices, improved customer care and maintenance – and products that compete on power and price with Windows-based alternatives.

Apple's move to Unix has also stimulated developers to create software for education, as OS X's Unix core reduces developmental costs, the report claims.

Other positive steps include the company's focus on ensuring that Macs are easy to consolidate into existing Windows-based networks, its G5 Power Macs, its brand-boosting success in the digital-music business, and its work to achieve one-on-one deals.

"Apple could find new prosperity in classrooms", the report concludes.