IDC: IBM Gains Share in Unix, Intel-Based Server Revenue

IBM, Armonk, N.Y., also extended its lead as the No. 1 overall server vendor in 2004, with 33.3 percent of total server revenue, gaining 1.2 points year over year, according to new IDC numbers. IBM's closest competitor, Hewlett-Packard, of Palo Alto, Calif., had 26.6 percent market share for 2004, losing half of a percentage point year over year. A point is one-hundredth of 1 percent.

Sun Microsystems, Santa Clara, Calif., came in third with 10.5 percent market share, a loss of .7 points over its 2003 numbers. And Dell, Round Rock, Texas, came in just behind Sun with 9 percent of overall server market share, a gain of .4 points from 2003.

In the Intel-based server space, HP remained the leader with 34.5 percent market share for 2004, with Dell and IBM in a tight race for second with 20.1 percent and 18.4 percent market share, respectively.

IBM edged out Dell for second place in the fourth quarter with 20 percent share to Dell's 19.2 percent -- an edge the vendor touts as proof of its momentum in the space.

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Matt Eastwood, IDC's program vice president of worldwide server research and the author of the latest market-share report, said IBM has put some significant wood behind the arrow of its Intel-based server strategy, and the investment shows.

"IBM has doubled down and paid more attention to this space in the last three years," Eastwood said. "They were running further behind Dell and now slightly surpassed them."

He added that IBM has "some nice momentum" on its side in that space, having grown 25 percent year over year, more than any other vendor.

Still, Eastwood said that the No. 2 position is too close to call, despite IBM's gains. "We view it as a dead heat," he said.

IBM also has momentum in the Unix space, Eastwood said, although that market continues to be a "slugfest" between IBM, HP and Sun, with the lead shifting regularly, he said.

"If you're going to look at the Unix market, what we see is lot of flip-flopping per quarter," Eastwood said.

IBM took the No. 1 position in the survey for the fourth quarter of 2004, with 36.3 percent market share, nearly 10 points ahead of HP, which came in second with 27.6 percent market share for Q4. Sun was third with 25.3 percent share for the quarter.

HP had held the third quarter lead, with 32 percent market share over IBM's 26.5 percent. In this tight market, a quarterly lead does not necessarily indicate the clear winner, Eastwood said. He said he expects Sun will move back into the lead in early 2005, toward the later end of its fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The fiscal years of both HP and IBM mirror the calendar year, explaining their strong market-share showing in the calendar fourth quarter. "There's definitely a seasonality issue here that needs to be considered," he said.

HP continued to have a slim lead over Sun and IBM in overall Unix server revenue for the year, with 30 percent market share to Sun's 28.7 percent and IBM's 28.5 percent. Of the three vendors, both Sun and HP lost market share, while IBM gained a little over two points. In 2003, HP took 31.9 percent of Unix-based server revenue, while Sun took 30 percent and IBM took 26.3 percent.