Macs Won't Rule When It Comes to Back-to-School Buyers

google-chrome-netbookThe bespectacled, geeky PC guy from the Apple (s aapl) commercials finally has something to gloat about. Macs are not shaping up to be the top choice of students this back-to-school shopping season, as they’re opting instead for more affordable netbooks and PC laptops. According to results from an inaugural survey released today by Sunnyvale, Calif.-based consumer electronics research firm marketplace Retrevo (Disclosure: Retrevo is backed by Alloy Ventures, which also funds the Giga Omni Media network), about 34 percent of students surveyed said they planned to buy netbooks this year, while 49 percent said they were buying PC laptops.

Though not an apples-to-apples (or even apples-to-netbook) comparison to the Retrevo survey, a Morgan Stanley analyst released a report last year that found 40 percent of college students planned to purchase a Mac for the 2008 back-to-school season. But in light of the economic challenges that have since emerged, affordability is a top concern for students this year. Over half of those in the Retrevo study said they planned to spend less than $750 to buy a laptop, making the lightweight, compact netbooks an attractive choice since many are available for under $200. By comparison, pricing for Mac laptops start in the $900-$1,000 range. Dell (s dell) and Hewlett-Packard (s hpq) have both been heavily promoting their netbooks in the run-up to the upcoming school year, so unless Apple rolls out more affordable options for cash-strapped students, it looks like the revenge of the PC nerds has begun.