Apple, Samsung, Google top the IT vendor ranks: Gartner

Apple, Samsung, and Google are Gartner's top three vendors based on IT and components revenue generated in 2016.

Gartner ranks Apple number one IT vendor for 2016

Apple has once again topped the global IT vendor ranks after generating $218.1 billion in IT and components revenue in 2016, beating its second-place rival Samsung by $79 billion, technology analyst firm Gartner announced on Tuesday.

Apple retained its top spot despite its 2016 revenue falling below the $235 billion reported in 2015.

Samsung's IT and components revenue came in at $139.1 billion, down from $142 billion in 2015, while Google ranked third with $90.1 billion, up from $74.9 billion in 2015.

Microsoft and IBM also made the top five after delivering revenues of $85.7 billion and $77.8 billion in 2016, respectively. These are down from the $88.1 billion and $79.6 billion reported a year earlier.

Gartner said the top three vendors -- Apple, Samsung, and Google -- can credit their size to their alignment with the "nexus of forces", which the analyst firm describes as the "convergence of social, mobility, cloud and information that drive new business scenarios".

"The needs of IT buyers are shifting. CEOs are focused on growth and are more focused on realising business outcomes from their IT spend," said John-David Lovelock, VP at Gartner.

"The Nexus of Forces has been the focus of attention for many years, however, the impact of digital business is giving rise to new categories."

Gartner said Microsoft was a "large and influential company" when the convergence began, having grown to market leadership during the web and e-business phase, and has managed to pivot to remain relevant.

IBM, on the other hand, gained its size and market dominance in the very earliest IT markets when servers, storage, and consulting services dominated, the analyst firm added.

"The need for these devices and services, along with mobile phones and PCs will remain -- cloud will underpin all digital business initiatives -- but they will become more commoditised and less of a driver for new projects and spending," Gartner stated in an announcement.

The analyst firm also predicts that by 2021, 20 percent of all activities an individual engages in will involve at least one of the top seven "digital giants" which include Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent.

"Digital giants effectively become gatekeepers for any business that delivers digital content and services to consumers," Lovelock said in a statement. "Any company that wants to engage consumers in, or through, their digital world will have to consider engaging with one or more of these digital giants."

However, given these digital giants have been consumer-focused, Gartner said there is an opportunity for other companies to focus on the B2B angle.

"In the B2B world of selling technology solutions to large enterprises, some of the digital giants have already had significant impact," Lovelock said.

"For example, Amazon Web Services' (AWS) cloud is disrupting enterprise hardware and software businesses dramatically. Apple's iOS devices are dominant within enterprise mobility, and Google's presence beyond search into browsers, cloud office and more is growing."

Earlier this month, Gartner placed AWS and Microsoft Azure on the top of its Infrastructure-as-a-Service Magic Quadrant. However, Google Cloud was categorised as a key challenger, with Gartner calling it a good option for cloud-native companies due to its emphasis on portability.

Alibaba Cloud is also on the rise and seen as the gateway to China, according to Gartner. However, at this stage, outside of China, Alibaba Cloud has a limited track record.