Apple's new European chief, Thomas Lot, has said he thinks of Apple as a start-up company.

"Of every 100 iMacs sold, 46 are bought by people who did not have a computer before. If 23 per cent of French homes have a computer, this means 77 per cent do not. We have room to grow," he told MacCentral.

Lot feels that Apple remains a niche market, but maintains that it is possible to prosper within that niche. 30-35 million people use Macs, he claimed.

Market share Apple is moving toward a more aggressive strategy, Lot said. He added: "Reaching a double-digit market share is clearly an objective for Apple."

Apple's newly named European general manager says he thinks such growth is achievable by "integrating innovation with the strengths a manufacturer can provide" in essential technologies, such as video-editing, desktop publishing and education.

Lot told ZDNet Apple Europe is also reorganizing Apple's European distribution network – a project begun three years ago. "It's a question of adapting our network to the products we offer and exploiting synergies between different European territories."