A weakening dollar helped server manufacturers finish off a bumper 2003, with European revenues up by 17.5 percent, according to research firm IDC.
According to IDC's European Server Tracker, Q4 last year was the second successive quarter showing growth both in terms of units shipped and cash value. Compared to the previous year, the overall value of servers shipped increased by 17.5 percent to $4.2bn (£2.3bn) and unit shipments increased by 28.8 percent to 416,637.
Although IBM enjoyed revenue growth of 30.5 percent, to $1.75bn, and grabbed top spot in terms of revenue at 41.5 percent, HP retained its No. 1 position in unit shipments, with a 34.7 percent increase to 177,238 units, generating $1.2bn.
Sun Microsystems' revenue fell 3.5 percent from last year and Fujitsu Siemens's growth remained stable at 7.2 percent. Dell managed to take 5.2 percent of the total revenue after its numbers increased by 13 percent.
IDC analysts warn the figures may be a little deceptive because the US dollar has depreciated against European currencies by about 16 percent. If this depreciation is taken into account, IDC maintains that revenue growth was positive, but only marginally.
For the whole of 2003, IDC said server sales grew by 6.1 percent to $13.1bn and shipments rose by 19.2 percent to 1.3 million units.
Nathaniel Martinez, senior research analyst at IDC's European Server Group, said that price pressure and an increasing number of products has caused the average system price to fall "dramatically" during the past year. "Compared to Q4 2002, the average price decreased by 9 percent," he said. "This continues to have a very positive effect on unit growth, and already indications for the first two months of Q1 2004 point to another good quarter."