IDC Releases Server Numbers; IBM, HP Each Claim Top Spot

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When IDC released its report on fourth-quarter 2002 numbers late last week, both IBM and Hewlett-Packard were quick to chime in and proclaim their own victories in the worldwide server market -- a market that also saw a 41 percent increase in worldwide Linux server revenue. IDC's fourth quarter and calendar year server revenue numbers are out. Although IBM and HP each claimed the number-one spot in as many areas as they could, Linux came out a big winner with a 41 percent increase in revenue compared to this time last year.

According to the report, "IBM extended its lead in the overall server market with a 36.2 percent share, gaining more than 2 points of share from a year ago. Dell and Sun Microsystems also posted slight year-over-year market share gains, with 1.5 points and 0.2 points, respectively."

However, in terms of revenue in the fourth quarter, HP indicated in its own statement to the press that it held the No. 1 position in 4Q revenue in the individual Intel, Linux, and UNIX markets, a statement that was not in the original IDC press release, but was confirmed from data in a IDC revenue chart.

In the UNIX, Linux, and Windows markets, IBM touted that it consistently gained in all three markets, while HP's revenues actually shrank in all three of these channels.

The confusion on just exactly comes out on top in this very competitive environment stems from how each company in the field chooses the numbers to highlight: revenue or units shipped.

For instance, for the 2002 calendar year, IBM remained number one with 29.4 percent share followed by HP with 23.8 percent share. If HP and Compaq shipments were combined for the full year, HP would be in the number 2 position with 27.8 percent share. These numbers are for all worldwide server revenue figures.

But "HP is the worldwide leader in total server unit shipments including Unix, Windows and Linux servers, for calendar year 2002," according to Kathy Sowards, Media Relations Manager for HP.

When the revenue numbers are examined for the UNIX market HP and IBM virtually tied in revenue share, with each holding 30 percent of the market share. For the entire 2002 year, Sun Microsystems led the market with 32 percent share followed by HP with 30 percent. However, if you combine Compaq and HP as one entity for the full year, HP pretty much tied for the No. 1 position in the UNIX market.

Perhaps the brightest star of information in the report was the stunning 41 percent revenue growth for the Linux server market -- a jump of $607 million compared to 4Q 2001.

"Some might say this is a small number, since right now the Linux market is starting small," explained IDC analyst Jean Bozman. But she went on to point out that the Linux market's growth is strongly accelerating. The 3Q-to-3Q numbers from last quarter showed a growth of just 26 percent, compared to this quarter's year-to-year jump of 41 percent.

"The things we think are driving that increase is that the Linux servers are becoming very mature," Bozman added. She cited heavy use of file and print servers, as well as a very strong increase in Linux-based clusters taking on jobs that would in the past have been handled by supercomputers.

In the 4Q revenue numbers released by IDC today, HP is still the leader in this field, with a market share of 30.8 percent, followed by IBM's 20.4 percent of revenue share.

This article was originally published on Mar 3, 2003
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