Apple's European CPU sales climbed 44 per cent sequentially during its just-gone December quarter, and were up 27 per cent year on year, the company confirmed last night.

The company saw revenues in Europe climb an astonishing 73 per cent sequentially and 38 per cent year on year. In the Americas, CPU sales climbed 21 per cent year on year and in Japan they shrank 14 per cent in the same period.

The latter result was tempered by recovery in the just-gone quarter, were CPU sales climbed 13 per cent sequentially in Japan. However, in Apple's most important Americas market, CPU sales dropped 20 per cent, though revenue still climbed (52 per cent) sequentially.

Apple's research and development spend climbed $2 million in its first 2007 quarter.

The company spent $184 million on research and development in the quarter, in contrast to $182 million in the year-ago quarter. The company retains its commitment to research; notably, Apple continued to engage research and development even during the tough years following the dot com bubble burst.

While desktop sales remain weaker than those of Apple's portable systems, units shipped climbed 2 per cent sequentially (though they shrank 4 per cent, year on year).

Portable systems saw a slight decline (2 per cent) overall, following the previous quarter which saw many users buy a MacBook or MacBook Pro who had delayed purchasing a new Mac until the Intel processor shift was complete.

However, on a year-on-year basis, portable system sales climbed an impressive 65 per cent. Apple exceeds industry growth rates for its computer sales by a factor of three, Apple management revealed last night.

As reported elsewhere, the company continues to enjoy high demand for its iPods. It sold 21,066 million of these in the December quarter — that's up 141 per cent from the previous quarter, when it sold 8,729 million players.

On a year-on-year basis, iPod sales climbed 50 per cent, suggesting the company hasn't reached saturation point for this product line yet.

Christmas demand was stimulated by the September launch of new iPods, iPod nanos and the tiny iPod shuffle.

Software services and other sales climbed 7 per cent year on year, closing at $347 million; the 'other music -related products and services' (iTunes) category saw 29 per cent year-on-year growth, delivering $634 million to Apple's revenue.

Apple's 'peripherals and other hardware' segment put a respectable $297 million under the company Christmas tree, but this was down 2 per cent, year on year.

At retail, Apple attracted $1,139 million in revenue and sold 308,000 CPUs, up 6 per cent (revenue) or 60 per cent (CPU sales) on the year-ago quarter.