Apple's director of server software Tom Goguen believes "there a real opportunity" for Apple in the server segment of the market.

According to an Investor's Business Daily report "the server segment is a battle royal of operating systems. Longtime leader Unix is losing ground to Linux and Windows, with the winner far from certain".

But Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg doubts Apple will pose a serious threat to Microsoft or big Linux vendors anytime soon, although he says Apple could "wring more money from existing customers". He added: The XServe gives them one less reason to turn to other vendors for high-end needs."

Apple's product manager for server hardware Doug Brooks believes the biotech, education, government and animation markets are "promising".

According to Aberdeen Group analyst Peter Kastner, the Virginia Tech supercomputer lends credibility to Apple that could help as it goes after customers in new business markets: "This is an area where Apple has been perceived as being essentially not on the playing field. The Virginia Tech supercomputer gives them valid bragging rights."

Apple is already making moves on these new markets. Ecommerce Times details a few examples of institutions that are using Apple solutions.

NASA planetary geologist Matt Golombek said that he has used Apple machines since the late 1980s and that 90 per cent of his colleagues also use Macs.

Wolfram Research's Theodore Gray said: "Scientists tend to prefer Unix (including Linux) over anything else, and Mac OS X is a revelation. You can compile all of your stuff: source code, projects, and scientific subroutines. Mac OS X provides a nice environment for all of them."

William Van Etten of the MIT Whitehead Institute for Genome Research, once needed four computers to do his work: a Windows box for productivity, a Unix box for development, a Linux computer for Linux development and a notebook computer. When Mac OS X became viable, he was able to slim down to a single computer: a Mac.

The BioTeam's Stan Gloss said: "In the life sciences, you are dealing with large data sets being input into memory, so you need a fairly large memory space when you are comparing, let's say, the genome of a fruit fly with a human genome. The Mac processes these queries at a speed that significantly improves the overall price-performance ratio of the organization using it."

The Ecommerce Times concludes: "As Apple's Mac becomes more and more reliable, its scientific renaissance is likely to gather steam."