Campus bookstore computer buyers prefer Macs

Apple Computer Inc. must like this trend. In the 2005-06 school year, the UC Davis bookstore sold more than $2 million worth of Apple computers, while sales of rival PCs barely totaled $250,000. Sales of Apple's desktop Macintoshes rose 16 percent from the year before, and sales of Mac laptops grew almost 50 percent. But sales of desktop PCs skidded 38 percent.

UC Davis is not the only university bookstore to see a surge in sales of Apple products. In October 2006, the bookstore at Princeton University reported that 45 percent of the computers it is selling are Macs--triple the percentage in 2003.

When students come to the Davis store to buy laptops, said Computer Shop supervisor Chantay Jones, employees ask the students about their intended use, comfort with computers, academic major and software needs. Macs often turn out to be the better fit, she said, which explains part of the sales. The campus also encourages departments that want to buy Macs to buy them through the campus bookstore (departmental sales of Macs total about 50 to 65 percent of the shop??'s total).

Jones said the shop doesn??'t promote Apples over PCs, but added that Apple really cultivates the student market. Other observers have also credited iPods for raising Apple??'s profile as a tech company.

The trend toward Apple extends beyond a few campuses. According to the International Data Corporation, Apple's share of the U.S. computer market reached 5.8 percent in 2006, up 30 percent year to year. But PCs still dominate, with personal computer maker Dell leading with 31 percent of the total market.

PCs also dominate among UC Davis students overall, according to the Winter 2006 student survey by the campus office of Computer Lab Management. Among the 197 students who completed the survey, more than 90 percent had PCs and less than 10 percent had Macs.

Sales of Macs at the Davis store, Jones said, continued to climb in the fall quar ter.