Apple continues to excel in the United Kingdom\u00a0and Europe, growing sales at a significantly faster rate than the industry average.New data from the analysts at IDC shows the company continues to make gains. "In the U.K. and Western Europe, Apple shipment growths outperformed the overall PC market in both notebook and desktop form factors in Q1 2006," observed IDC senior research analyst Michael Larner.Apple notebooks drive U.K. sales boomApple held a first-quarter market share of 2.9 percent in the United Kingdom\u00a0overall, when desktop and notebook sales are combined. Individually, it took 3.4 percent of the U.K. market for notebooks and grabbed 2.65 percent of the desktop market.This 3.4 percent market share of U.K. notebook sales is a 50.15 percent year-on-year improvement for the company, the analysts said. That\u2019s far ahead of the industry average, which saw 20.44 percent improvement in the period.Mac desktop sales rise as industry stagnatesApple also grew its desktop sales by 27.38 percent year on year. While this delivered only a 2.65 percent market share, other vendors fared far worse in desktop sales; the overall value of the desktop computer market fell 6.16 percent year on year, IDC said.In Western Europe, Apple holds 2.6 percent of the desktop market and 2.5 percent of the notebook market. In unit sales, that\u2019s up 11.7 percent and 18.3 percent, year on year. Meanwhile, the overall EMEA market climbed only 1.8 percent and 2 percent, leaving Apple rising at a much faster rate than the rest of the PC pack.Specific markets explainedInevitably, pan-industry shipment figures offer a slanted picture of the true extent of Apple\u2019s success. Critics of such figures point out that they include server shipments and also large installations of corporate PCs, which are used only for specific purposes. Given Apple\u2019s limited presence in the corporate markets, market share figures will always be set against the company.Macworld U.K. asked IDC research director Karine Paoli to offer her observations about the markets Apple targets. She\u2019s optimistic for the company."Apple is certainly doing well at the moment across our region," she explained. "The company has been able to not only leverage from the momentum created around the iPod, but also from a good go-to-market strategy\u2014refreshed products, price-positioning, and improvements in its supply chain with more use of its two-tier distribution channel to reach a wider market," she said.Macs define education, graphics, media marketsApple also remains strong in education, graphics and media markets,\u00a0Paoli remarked.Notebooks remain the secret sauce: "The refresh of Apple\u2019s product lines, in particular in the notebook space, along with the move to Intel processors should help drive continued expansion throughout 2006, in both the consumer and business space," she said.Clearly as growth rates across the industry decline, maintaining its lead won\u2019t be an easy ride for Apple, she warned: "It faces fierce competition from all other players, as the market is intensively competitive at the moment, and we do not see this softening in the second half of the year."-Jonny Evans, Macworld.co.ukRelated Links:\n\nCBS, iTunes Offer TV Shows for Computers, iPods\n\nSurvey: iPods More Popular than Beer at U.S. Colleges\n\nApple\u2019s iTunes Found Guilty of Violating Norwegian LawCheck out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.