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2013 Worldwide Server Market Grew 2.1 % in Shipments, Revenue Decreased 4.5 % for the Year

By Gartner
Published: Mar 05,2014

In the fourth quarter of 2013, worldwide server shipments grew 3.2 % year over year, while revenue declined 6.6 % from the fourth quarter of 2012, according to Gartner, Inc. In all of 2013, worldwide server shipments grew 2.1 %, and server revenue declined 4.5 %.

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"2013 presented some pronounced differences in various server market segments," said Jeffrey Hewitt, research vice president at Gartner. "We've seen ongoing growth in Web-scale IT deployments, while the enterprise remained relatively constrained."

"In terms of hardware platform types, mainframe and RISC/Itanium Unix platform market performance kept overall revenue growth in check," Mr. Hewitt said.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, the regions with the highest growth rates in terms of unit shipments were Asia/Pacific (16.3 %), Japan (7.5 %) and North America (relatively flat at 0.01 %). All regions declined in vendor revenue except Asia/Pacific, which grew by 0.6 % year over year.

HP led the worldwide server market in revenue terms in the fourth quarter of 2013 (see Table 1). The company ended the year with $3.8 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter, for a total share of 28.1 % worldwide. This was up 6.0 % compared with the same quarter in 2012.

Of the top five global vendors, only HP and Cisco showed growth for the quarter. IBM had the largest decline with a decrease of 28.9 %.

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In server shipments, HP remained the worldwide leader for the fourth quarter of 2013 (see Table 2) with a year-over-year shipment increase of 8.7 %.

Of the top five vendors in server shipments worldwide, all but Dell and IBM had shipment increases for the period. Huawei exhibited the strongest year-over-year increase with growth of 187.9 %.

The results for the quarter were centered around x86 server demand, which increased in shipments by 3.8 % and revenue by 4.3 % for the fourth quarter of 2013.

Figure III
Figure III

Full-Year 2013 Server Market Results

The year of 2013 demonstrated growth in shipments with an increase of 2.1 %, but revenue declined 4.5 % with varying geographic results. x86 servers continued to produce some growth as the predominant platform used for large-scale data center build-outs, particularly in North America. Emerging regions like Asia/Pacific and Latin America also added to the growth for the year.

x86 blade servers posted a revenue increase of 0.8 % and a shipment decrease of 2.6 % for the year. HP was the 2013 leader in x86 blade server shipments with 40.3 % market share; Cisco was in second place with 15.9 % of the market.

The outlook for 2014 suggests that modest growth will continue. These increases will continue to be buffered in the enterprise by the use of x86 server virtualization to consolidate physical machines as they are replaced.

EMEA 4Q13 Results

In Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), both server shipments and revenue declined in the fourth quarter of 2013. Server revenue totaled $3.6 billion in the quarter, a decline of 6.4 % from the fourth quarter of 2012 (see Table 3). Server shipments totaled 613,000 units in the final quarter of 2013, a decrease of 2.5 % from the same period of the previous year (see Table 4). Server shipments in 2013 declined 5.6 % to total 2.3 million units, and server revenue dropped 6.3 % to total $12.4 billion in 2013.

"The EMEA server market continued to suffer as it recorded its 10th consecutive quarterly revenue decline," said Adrian O'Connell, research director at Gartner. "Economic weakness continued to have a profound effect on the EMEA server market. Total revenue in 2013 was only around two-thirds of that seen in 2007, before the downturn set in."

All regions in EMEA showed year-over-year server revenue declines; the greatest weakness was in Eastern Europe, with a 14.1 % year-over-year decrease. Western Europe declined 4.9 %, while the Middle East and Africa saw a 6.8 % drop in revenue.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, x86 server revenue increased 1.4 %, while RISC/Itanium Unix revenue declined 20.1 %. Revenue in the Other CPU segment decreased 35.7 %. Platform migrations continued to impact non-x86-based systems. "Although the Other CPU segment saw a period of growth, the cyclical driver has now ended, compounding the general weakness," said Mr. O'Connell.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, both HP and IBM showed revenue declines. HP's decline was lower than the market average as it improved its execution and gained market share year over year. IBM had a weak quarter due to its product life cycles, and the revenue decline of 26.4 % in the quarter made it lose 7 %age points of share compared with the same quarter in 2012. Dell continued to focus on achieving server growth and — along with Oracle — had the strongest year-over-year revenue increase.

"The EMEA server market ended the year on a particularly low point," said Mr. O'Connell. "The good news for vendors is that demand appears to be stabilizing, but polarization remains between high-end and low-end platforms. Vendors that sell low-end servers should see a more positive 2014, but those exposed to the high-end segments will continue to face tough challenges."

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