Apple seems set to gain momentum in the US education market this year, according to TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence.

The company ran a survey into consumer computer-buying habits. This reveals a big jump in consumer interest in Macs, suggesting the company will reap dividends as parents buy computers for their children this year.

The survey showed Apple in a tie with second-place computer maker HP in the battle for consumer hearts and minds. Both were the brand choice of 11 per cent of prospective buyers.

The two firms lag behind Dell's 41 per cent brand choice figure, but that figure is sliding: Dell took 48 per cent in May and 55 per cent April.

"Among those saying it's likely they'll buy a new desktop PC in the next six months, Apple was the number two preferred brand, with 16 per cent. That's the highest number for Apple since TechnoMetrica began collecting purchase-intent data more than two years ago. In May, 6 per cent of likely desktop PC buyers said they would choose Apple," Investor's Business Daily reveals.

The researchers observed that Apple's new-found glow is a result of its move to Intel chips and its success with the market-leading iPod.

TechnoMetrica analyst Constantine Kambanis observed: "Apple's brand equity has been improving slowly. This seems to be coming mainly at the expense of Dell."