Laptop A majority of US college-bound students will not consider buying a Mac laptop, a study reveals. Instead, students are gravitating toward affordable netbooks from a variety of manufacturers.

Retrevo, the consumer electronics website that conducted the study, says Macs are at the bottom of student wish lists this year. While 49 percent of students will buy full-sized Windows laptops, 34 percent will purchase netbooks. Bringing up the rear is Mac with only 17 percent of students saying they intend to buy one, the study shows.

A telling 18 percent of survey participants said they won't spend more than $1,000 (about £600) for a laptop; considering that the most affordable new Apple laptop I could find sells for $949 (the white MacBook), Apple doesn't look to be the big man on campus this year. A majority of penny-pinching students, 58 percent of them, said they plan on spending less than $750 on their back-to-school laptop.

Apple has been targeting the education market this year with a special promotion offering a free iPod Touch with every MacBook sold. Judging from Retrevo's study, the lure is not that effective. Apple's promotion ends on September 8.

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Cheap netbooks may be good enough for students tight on cash and already saddled with debt. With long battery life and a variety of designs, these affordable mini-laptops give students more for their tight budgets.

While netbook sales are strong, Apple has been reluctant to enter the cheap ultraportable computer war. Speculation about such a device has been floating around for over a year now, but Apple execs blasted the idea of an Apple netbook back in March.

But Apple could have something else in mind for the education market. The company is rumoured to be launching a tablet-sized device either this year or in early 2010, which could have broad applications for the education sector as well.

We might want to take the Retrevo study with a grain of salt, considering that it only polled 300 site visitors. And, personally, I'm not terribly surprised by its findings. Since when has Apple ever been the big man on campus when it comes to computer operating systems? If 17 percent of college-bound students actually do what they told Retrevo and buy a Mac, that's actually pretty good news for Apple.

Market research firm Gartner points out the Mac market share here in the United States is a paltry 8.7 percent. Plus, according to market research from NPD, Apple has its own bragging rights. It owns 90 percent of the over-$1,000 PC market.

Hey, maybe Microsoft's laptop hunter advertising campaign is working? Next we'll find out college students prefer Bing to Google. Can we hide from assimilation?

See also:

Apple iTablet: Spec and price predictions

What can we expect from Apple's autumn event?

PC World