Once again, Apple took number one position in PC Data’s Top 10 Hardware Sites rankings, reports The Mac Observer.

The site had 1.4 million visitors, 300,000 more than its closest rival, Compaq.

The figures reflected Web traffic for the week ending 8 April. Apple led, followed by Compaq, with Dell in third place.

The traffic is driven in part by Apple’s iTools, and also because of Apple’s strategy of refusing to license its software and system updates to other sites or cover-CDs on magazines.

Apple’s customers are forced to access their upgrades via the Internet – less of a problem to its (unmetered calls) US customers, but an often costly concern for its worldwide customer base, whose telecommunications service providers are reluctant to deliver unmetered data calls.

Apple owners without an Internet connection are particularly badly affected by Apple’s US-centric Web and licensing strategy, though Apple’s Web site hit count benefits as a result.