Analysts believe Apple could benefit from the intensification of the computer upgrade cycle this year.

Research firm Gartner Group this week predicted that 260 million PCs will ship in 2004 and 2005, driven by the need to replace PCs acquired in the run-up to 2000.

Report author told MacNewsWorld: "Apple has a relatively small market share in the global view of PCs shipped. Gains would come from converting competitors sales to the platform."

Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox believes that high-end consumers are now in the market for home computers, and that Apple's iLife suite and ease-of-networking could make Macs an attractive choice.

"iLife offers a personal experience that could increase Mac adoption," he said.