Server sales show signs of life in the fourth quarter; IBM remains top dog

Global server sales in the fourth quarter are still down from a year ago, but are showing signs of life, according to research firm IDC. IBM has the market share lead followed by HP and Dell.

Global server sales in the fourth quarter are still down from a year ago, but are showing signs of life, according to research firm IDC. IBM has the market share lead followed by HP and Dell.

According to IDC, the server cross currents are showing some positive indicators. To wit:

  • Worldwide factory revenue was $13 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009, down 3.9 percent from a year ago.
  • Sure, that revenue figure was the sixth straight quarter of annual declines it was the second quarter of sequential growth.
  • Shipments increased 1.9 percent to 1.9 million units from a year ago.
  • Volume systems had revenue growth of 9.9 percent in the fourth quarter from a year ago. Midrange server revenue fell 5.3 percent and the high-end market saw revenue fall 23.6 percent in the fourth quarter.

On the surface, that server revenue performance is so-so at best. However, IDC notes that the fourth quarter marked the first time in more than a year that any category of server systems showed revenue growth. IDC reckons those customers are coming off the buying sidelines for 2010.

By vendor here's a look at the standings:

As you can see from the fourth quarter stats, Sun continued to take a beating. Dell, HP and Fujitsu showed revenue gains. IBM lost revenue but gained share.

By the numbers:

  • x86 server sales jumped 12.6 percent in the fourth quarter to $7.3 billion. Blade servers were 21.4 percent of all x86 server revenue.
  • Windows server demand surged 13.7 percent in the fourth quarter with revenue of $5.4 billion, the highest mark in two years. Windows server revenue surged due to accelerating x86 sales.
  • Linux server revenue was up 6.1 percent to $1.9 billion in the fourth quarter. Linux servers are 14.7 percent of the market.
  • Unix server revenue fell 18.1 percent in the fourth quarter to $3.9 billion. Unix servers were 29.9 percent of the market. IDC said customers were waiting for new systems from IBM and HP as well as clarity on the Oracle-Sun server roadmap.

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