Analyst house Gartner is courting controversy by saying that Apple should license its hardware business to Dell in order to gain a higher share in the computer market.

In the report, entitled “Apple Should License the Mac to Dell”, Gartner says that it should concentrate on software and leave the hardware to Dell. “Apple should leverage its close relationship with Intel and team up with Intel's closest ally, Dell ... We are aware that Steve Jobs cancelled previous Mac licences when he took over at Apple and that he guards the Apple brand zealously.”

Apple's market share has increased by 4.6% in July, and Gartner estimates that if Dell made its hardware, to get into the right distribution channels and a lower price, Mac computers could eventually claim a 20% share.

According to Gartner, Apple faces increasing pricing pressure, and is only able to make a 40% margin on Macs because component makers like Intel “prop up the business”.