Apple's success in achieving notebook sales in the UK PC market exceeded general market growth in the first quarter 2003, reports IDC.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs began the year, christening it "the year of the notebook". In response, Apple's UK notebook sales in both the commercial and consumer sectors rose 18.8 per cent year on year.

Apple's UK notebook market share climbed from 2.8 per cent to 3.4 per cent year-on-year. In total across all vendors, notebook sales grew 14.7 per cent year-on-year, so Apple's growth in that market exceeded industry averages.

IDC analyst Ian Gibbs said: "The notebook continues to help drive growth in the PC market - a trend Apple continues to take advantage of. With double-digit growth experienced in both the consumer and commercial notebook markets, Apple must be prepared to defend its established niche in this strong competitive environment over the coming months," he explained.

However, desktop sales remain weak. "Apple's sales fell 31.3 per cent year on year in both the consumer and commercial spaces," said Gibbs. Apple currently holds 2.2 per cent of the desktop market.

"Apple's growth in the desktop market this quarter has been constrained by fierce vendor competition and a general decline in market demand. For Apple, this has been exemplified by the withdrawal of their original iMac."

Despite notebook cheer, the company has suffered in the quarter, with its overall market share falling from 3.2 per cent in the first quarter 2002 to 2.5 per cent in the first quarter.

Apple seized ninth place in terms of UK PC market share in the first quarter 2003, the analyst said.

Overall, the UK PC market grew five per cent year-on-year, with signs of a pick-up in demand from the commercial sector. Notebook sales have lifted the industry, while desktop sales remain weak. The market is also being driven by "aggressive pricing" from vendors.

IDC's figures show 1,207,000 desktop PCs and 506,000 notebooks from all manufacturers were shifted in the quarter in the UK.

Apple management is understood to be concerned at the continued slowness in its desktop sales, particularly of its PowerMacs.

It is thought the company may make announcements intended to stimulate demand for its desktop products at the forthcoming Worldwide Developer's Conference in June.