The UK PC market grew 14.8 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2005, according to analysts at IDC.

The analyst firm observed that continued consumer demand was countered by a slight deceleration in commercial growth. Notebook sales climbed 29.8 per cent year-on-year - the product category continues to drive demand as prices fall.

Combined consumer/commercial desktop sales grew just 8.3 per cent year-on-year, while x86 server sales climbed just 5.1 per cent.

Consumers shore up PC sales

Ian Gibbs, senior research analyst with IDC's European Personal Computing team said: "In comparison to the commercial markets, it was consumer demand that really drove growth in 1Q05. Despite a slight slowdown in retail sales in February and early March, strong post-Christmas sales in January and special offers leading into the Easter period towards the end of the quarter contributed a great deal towards stimulating demand."

Consumer desktop shipments grew 17.3 per cent year on year, driven by falling prices and attractive deals. The commercial desktop segment remains weak, growing just 2.7 per cent year-on-year.

Windows Media Center PCs sluggish sales

Microsoft will be disappointed - it's Windows-powered Media Centers saw "relatively small" sales volumes, IDC said, observing: "Many end-users feel that a standard entertainment-oriented system with a TV tuner card installed offers them as much Media Center-type functionality as they require and negates the need for Microsoft's OS add-on."

But its notebook sales that are really booming. Consumer notebook sales excelled here, with the highest growth rate in six quarters, a stunning expansion of the market by 72.5 per cent year-on-year. Price, performance, features and screen sizes all helped boost demand. Commercial notebook sales grew more modestly, just 14 per cent year on year.

In order of ranking (first to fifth), Dell leads the pack, followed by HP and then Acer, NEC/Packard Bell and Toshiba. Apple isn't yet in the top five UK PC manufacturers, but is thought to be gaining on Toshiba's 4.98 per cent market share.