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Apple taps education, again

The Mac maker awards $1 million in grants to the education market to bolster the idea that it's back on track in this important market.

On the heels of two consecutive profitable quarters, Apple Computer pulled some money out of its pockets and awarded grants of over $1 million to ten K-12 schools.

The donations are a part of Apple's "Education Grant" program, which provides monies in support of schools "demonstrating innovative use of technology." Each of the grant recipients, which are located throughout the United States, will team up with nearby universities in an effort to keep educators up to date on the use of technology in the classroom, Apple said.

In addition to the grants themselves, the perception that Apple is back on track should help the company in the all-important education market. Mike Lorion, Apple's vice president of education sales, said Apple has given grants totaling over $30 million since the program's inception in 1979.

Last year, PC companies such as Compaq and Dell ramped up their efforts in the education segment and managed to win market share for Microsoft in the process. The software giant also boosted its education push last year.

Some of the gains made by these companies came as a result of schools seeking to move toward the computing platform that has become dominant in the business world, according to various observers. Microsoft's financial largesse hasn't hurt either. In March, for example, Indiana University said it would spend $6 million under an agreement with Microsoft to upgrade the university's infrastructure and to supply its 100,000 students and faculty with Microsoft Office, Windows 98, and Internet Explorer Web browser for their home computers.

Undeterred, Apple has taken steps to address sales to one of its core markets, such as launching a new, low-priced "all-in-one" computer and offering schools the ability to buy custom configured systems from a special education sales Web site.