PC shipments in Europe grew 10.4 per cent year on year — but Apple's UK growth exceeded industry averages once again, according to the analysts at IDC.

Overall, PC shipments reached over 24.6 million units in the final quarter of 2006, but Apple's combined desktop and notebook shipments in the UK grew 29.6 per cent.

The focus on notebooks continues across the industry, IDC said. "Notebook growth continuing to outpace the market at 28 per cent year on year ," the firm reports in its quarterly PC market analysis.

Not so at Apple — Apple's UK performance is double that of the industry average — up 59.1 per cent (the total UK notebook market grew 21.5 per cent.) Apple's desktop sales grew 6.5 per cent in the UK, slightly under the prevailing 9.9 per cent industry trend here.

IDC analyst Michael Larner explains, Apple experienced "strong sales of notebooks thanks to continued positive reception to the product's design coupled with the inclusion of dual core technologies."

“This year has clearly marked, through the accelerated development of the notebook market, the importance of effective and time-to-market product strategies and the need for vendors to develop stronger branding strategies," said Karine Paoli, research director for IDC’s EMEA Personal Computing group.

“Competitive pricing and the ability to promote technology replacement cycles effectively will remain essential to drive demand and market share, but branding and customer segmentation will become increasingly important as the market continues to expand and include a larger renewal base.”

"In the EMEA region Apple shipments grew 31.3 per cent year on year in a market, which is growing by 10.4 per cent," Larner told Macworld.

"There remains more potential for Apple in EMEA market as the both the commercial and consumer installed base grows and the company dedicates more resources to the region, an example being proposed store openings in key city centres," he observed.

Apple continues to be aligned to the opportunity in the consumer market where product design and digital entertainment capabilities are critical deciding factors.

"The notebooks and desktops benefit from iPod's popularity and continued developments in the digital market place such as downloading movies to iTunes and distributing content via Apple TV," Larner added.

Despite the positive growth story, Apple continues to account for just 2.1 per cent of the EMEA market and faces stiff competition from Toshiba, Asus, Sony and HP.