Apple delivered 25 per cent growth in the UK in Q4 2003.

"Apple had quite a successful quarter in the UK in Q4, with shipments growing 25 per cent year-on-year overall", said research analyst Ian Gibbs. "Ten per cent year-on-year growth was seen in desktop shipments and 50 per cent in notebooks," he added.

"The vendor experienced growth in both the consumer and the commercial markets," he added.

IDC released figured detailing fourth quarter 2003 activity in the UK PC market February 3. These show the market expanded 16.9 per cent year-on-year in the quarter. good results were driven by strong consumer sales over Christmas, along with "further growth in commercial IT expenditure and an uplift in public sector activity", IDC said.

Across vendors, notebooks grew 28.2 per cent year-on-year while desktops grew 11.6 per cent. Overall growth in the UK market for 2003 was 13.7 per cent in comparison with the preceeding year. Notebooks (30 per cent growth for the full year) helped drive growth.

Apple's notebook shipments grew 40 per cent, Gibbs told Macworld.

Rising consumer expenditure was further boosted in 4Q by the traditionally buoyant Christmas spending season. Consumer notebooks continued to boom, with 52.3 per cent growth year-on-year as users carried on displaying a strong demand for mobility, especially in the lower end of the market.

Apple's consumer sales benefited from demand at Christmas, while the iPod "added further credibility" to the brand as an "effective consumer product".

Gibbs observed: "With consumer desktop shipments growing 8.9 per cent year-on-year, the rise of the multimedia-oriented box as a centre for digital entertainment within the home is an increasingly important phenomenon and will to some extent hold total desktop replacement in check over the coming quarters," said Gibbs.

This could imply that Apple's focus on the digital hub may continue to pay dividends.

Commercial sales have also improved with notebooks driving such sales too – notebook shipments grew 17.5 per cent year-on-year, its strongest growth since the same quarter in 2000.

Apple also saw interest in the UK's commercial markets, primarily from small and medium businesses.

The company now holds 2.3 per cent of the UK market, while Apple's shipments grew 7.5 per cent in 2003. Apple stalled on the desktop last year, as buyers avoided investing in underpowered G4 Power Macs, though the company saw some recovery here in Q4; Apple's desktop shipments declined 8 per cent.

HP remains the UK market leader, IDC said.