Dell wins out as global server market slides

Server sales fell in the vast majority of geographical markets during the first quarter of 2013, but Dell still managed to boost the number of units it shipped.
Written by Sam Shead, Contributor

Dell was the only one of the top five server makers to increases its sales and market share in the first quarter of 2013, when the number of servers sold worldwide fell by 0.7 percent. 

Overall global server revenues were down 0.5 percent over the first quarter of the year, according to figures released on Tuesday by IT analyst Gartner.

"The first quarter of 2013 was certainly not a strong period for the server market on a global level," Gartner research vice-president Jeffrey Hewitt said on Tuesday.

The top five server vendors all experienced revenue declines in the first quarter of the year — except for Dell, which grew 14.4 percent. 

Oracle saw server revenues of $538.5m in the first quarter of 2013, compared to $739.8m in the first quarter of 2012. 

IBM remains the market leader with 25.5 percent of the server market share, despite a 2.5 percent decline in server revenues on the same time last year. IBM generated more than $3bn of revenue from servers in the first quarter of 2013, with 29.3 percent of its server revenue coming from the System X sub-brand.

Blade servers fell 5.9 percent in shipments and five percent in revenues over the first quarter, while rack-optimised servers fell 5.2 percent in shipments and two percent in revenue over the same period.

"x86 server shipment growth was flat in the quarter, while revenue increased 1.8 percent," Hewitt said. "RISC/Itanium Unix servers declined globally for the period, down 38.8 percent in shipments and down 35.8 percent in vendor revenue compared to the same quarter last year. The 'other' CPU category, which is primarily mainframes, exhibited an increase of 3.6 percent in worldwide revenue."

Worldwide server vendor revenue estimates, Gartner

According to the figures, HP sold the most servers worldwide, shipping 580,563 units in the first quarter of the year. This is still a 15.2 percent decline on last year when the company sold 685,015 units.

The only server vendors in the top five to experience shipment growth were Dell and Cisco, with increases of 2.6 percent and 33 percent respectively.

Worldwide server vendor shipment estimates, Gartner

Geographic focus

"The only regions to post increases were Asia/Pacific and the United States, with Asia/Pacific showing the strongest growth with shipment and revenue increases of seven percent and 1.7 percent, respectively," Hewitt said.

"While these two regions grew in both shipments and revenue, it was not enough to offset the declines of the other geographies — all of which declined in server shipments and revenue for the quarter."

EMEA server shipments exceeded 580,000 units in the first quarter of the year, a fall of 6.8 percent on the same period last year. Server revenues in EMEA also fell by 9.6 percent on the same period last year with a total of $2.96bn recorded for the first quarter of 2013.

"Following a challenging 2012, 2013 started in very much the same way," Gartner research director Adrian O'Connell said. "Budgets are restricted and server infrastructure spending is clearly not the highest priority for many organisations."

The most significant decline in EMEA server revenue for the first quarter was felt across the Middle East and Africa, where revenues fell 13.4 percent. In Western Europe and Eastern Europe, revenues fell by 9.6 percent and 9.4 percent respectively. Across the entire region, x86 server revenue increased by 1.8 percent.

Meanwhile, RISC/Itanium Unix server revenue fell by 54.8 percent, following migrations to cheaper and more flexible platforms. Revenues for other CPU segments fell by 9.9 percent, following a period of growth in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The only server vendors to experience server revenue growth in EMEA for the first quarter of 2013 were Dell and Fujitsu.

EMEA server vendor revenue estimates, Gartner

This time last year, ZDNet reported that server shipments were up but server revenues were down

Gartner claims that the market environment remains difficult for all vendors, but particularly those that are the most exposed to the enterprise customer segment.

"The reality for server vendors is that spending levels are very low and there is severe weakness in the high-end segment. There are still areas of opportunity, but vendors need to be agile and focused on addressing them. The outlook for 2013 remains challenging," O'Connell said.

Editorial standards