IBM tops server vendors for 2004

With Unix sales from rivals Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. slipping, IBM Corp. was the top vendor in the $49 billion worldwide server market in 2004, according to research released by Gartner Inc. on Wednesday.

Fuelled by strong sales of systems based on IBM’s Power 5 processor, the company saw its Unix sales grow by 7 percent year-over-year to $4.3 billion, Gartner found. Sales of IBM servers based on Intel Corp.’s x86 instruction set totalled $4.2 billion, up 22.4 percent from 2003.

IBM’s x86 growth rate was faster even than that of Dell Inc., which sold $4.8 billion worth of x86 servers in 2004, up 19.6 percent from its year-earlier numbers.

In addition to having strong Power 5 sales, IBM also was one of the more successful vendors of servers based on Intel’s 64-bit Xeon processors, said Gartner analyst Mike McLaughlin. The company also posted “respectable” growth with its zSeries line of mainframe computers, he said.

With $16.1 billion in sales, Big Blue was the number one server vendor, overall, in 2004, he said. HP was second and Sun was third, with $13.4 billion and $5.2 billion, respectively.

IBM’s server sales were 9.3 percent higher than its 2003 total, which meant that the company’s revenue was growing faster than the server market as a whole. Server sales grew by 7.2 percent in 2004.

Though IBM outsold it in the fourth quarter, Sun retained its position as the number one Unix vendor for the year as a whole. Sun had $5.1 billion in revenue, but sales were down 7.1 percent from 2003 numbers, Gartner found. HP’s Unix business dropped by 9.9 percent during 2004, totalling $4.9 billion for the year.

IBM was the top server vendor in the last quarter of 2004, Gartner found, with $5.1 billion in sales for the quarter. HP was second, with revenue of $3.9 billion, followed by Sun and Dell, which sold $1.4 billion and $1.3 billion worth of systems, respectively, during the period.

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