Apple's education-market sales drive lacks focus and a compelling message of differentiation when competing with Windows-based rivals, according to Business Week.

The report examines recent contract wins and losses, in particular the recent loss of a "massive one-to-one computing deal" – which was won by HP. According to Business Week these state programs – which seek to put a computer in the hands of every student – "are seen as the holy grail of the now stumbling K-12 education business".

Apple's recent disclosure in its 10K form for fiscal 2003 that it had laid-off staff in its education division, is also assessed. Reporter Alex Salkever said: "Laying off staff while trying to build market-share seems like a bit of a tactical oxymoron."

The report advises Apple to "work on its follow through and support in big one-to-one initiatives".

Apple has "something to crow about" with regard to education test scores – Henrico County (Apple's second largest one-to-one computing deal) recently reported significant improvements in test scores for students participating in the programme. Business Week states: "These positive results will give Apple's sales staff solid ammo in its education quest."

The report concludes: "Something good is happening for Apple in education. The proof is in the market share and test-score numbers."