The number of servers sold during the third quarter climbed 3.6 percent, but a weak market helped drag down revenues by 2.8 percent, according to IDC’s third-quarter report on the server market.
IDC didn’t attribute any of that decline to commoditization, although competition surely played a role. Revenue and units sold by “other vendors” continued to climb, up 27.2 percent for revenue and 12 percent in units; more than a third of the servers sold during the third quarter were from vendors other than the top five.
Who were the market leaders? In terms of units, HP hung on as the world’s largest server vendor, selling more than 634,000 units during the quarter (down 8.4 percent from a year ago). In terms of market share, that gave HP 25.8 percent of the market, good for a slight lead over Dell, which captured 23 percent of the market. Dell and Cisco were the only vendors among the top five to show positive unit growth for the quarter, with a 9.0 percent and 41.0 percent increase, respectively, for the period. IBM, Fujitsu, and Cisco rounded out the top five.
While things were pretty weak across the whole market, “commodity” X86 servers at least kept their heads above water, with shipments growing 4.3 percent in the third quarter of 2012 as revenue increased 4 percent year-over-year. “RISC/Itanium Unix servers continued to fall globally for the period—a 31.1 percent decline in shipments and a decrease of 16.4 percent in revenue compared to the same quarter last year,” Jeffrey Hewitt, research vice president at Gartner, wrote in a statement. “The ‘other’ CPU category, which is primarily mainframes, showed a decline of 17 percent in terms of revenue.”
With regard to server form factors, x86 blade servers declined 7.1 percent in shipments but increased 2.3 percent in revenue for the quarter, IDC said. The x86 rack-optimized form factor declined 0.2 percent in shipments and decreased 0.3 percent in revenue for the third quarter of 2012.
IBM captured 27.6 percent of the market by revenue, sinking 9.5 percent year-over-year, followed by HP with 26.4 percent. Dell gained 2 points of market share with a 10.3 percent increase in revenue, to a market share of 16.7 percent. And Oracle’s pricey server offerings pushed it to fourth, though revenues plunged by 22.5 percent.
“The third quarter of 2012 again produced shipment growth on a worldwide level, but server revenue was weak due to ongoing economic weakness and market segment differences,” Hewitt added. “Only the North America and Asia/Pacific regions managed any revenue growth, and even those were essentially flat year to year, with North America showing a 1.1 percent increase and Asia/Pacific a 0.7 percent increase.”