Apple's education strategy has come under fire from Dell Computers.

Bill Rodriguez, director of education sales for Dell Computer, said in a recent interview with CNet that he "intends to watch the company's every move".

Rodriguez left IBM two years ago to head Dell's education sales operations. He said: "The thing I find interesting is when Apple's CEO Steve Jobs says the newly launched iBook will get them back into a leadership position in education, I don’t know what that means," he said:

"Roughly 14 per cent of the education market is spent on notebooks. Even if he was the share leader in that space, I don't know how that gets them back into the leadership position.

"We have products that compete very well. One of the fastest parts of our education business is our notebook line. In the first quarter, it doesn't look like Apple gained any momentum. It will be interesting to see how it does in Q2. So far, all the numbers just seem to indicate the opposite."

Dell is Apple's main rival in the fight for education-sector sales. The company overtook Apple in 1999 as leader of the US education market. But Apple announced plans to fight back earlier this year. Jobs conceded that the loss of marketshare was Apple's fault and stemmed from the company "shooting itself in the foot" when it carried out a sales force reorganization earlier in the year.