Apple retained its one-on-one education deal with Henrico County middle schools despite stiff competition from Dell.

Dell won the contract for high schools in the area in April, which forced Apple to make a more aggressive offer to hang onto its existing business there.

The education board unanimously chose Apple to supply 12,675 laptops for a total cost of $15.8 million. This was $0.3 million higher than Dell, a local report explains.

However, Dell offered a larger laptop and fewer extras in comparison with Apple's offer. Local school chiefs cricitised Dell's deal because it failed to consider "life in a middle school student's backpack".

Apple offered 12-inch iBooks, and a raft of handy educational materials and software, including iLife and its US iTunes U hosted podcasting service.