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IDC: Server Market Rocked in 2010, Especially Q4

Market researchers at IDC released their 2010 year-end version of the Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker on Tuesday and the scorecard showed a monstrously good year for servers, especially in the fourth quarter.

For the full year, revenues were up 11.4 percent to $48.1 billion and unit shipments rose 15.3 percent to 7.6 million units compared to 2009. For the fourth quarter of 2010, revenues were $15 billion, also a 15.3-percent increase over the year-ago quarter, and unit shipments reached 2.1 million, a 6.1-percent increase.

According to IDC, it was the highest quarterly revenue in three years, and it was the fourth consecutive quarter with improving year-over-year revenue growth in a market that accelerated throughout the calendar year.

Windows servers were sitting in a sweet spot, setting a record quarterly total for unit shipments on the Microsoft platform. IDC said there were 1.5 million shipments of Windows-based servers in the quarter. Although IDC didn't break out the percentage, that's 71 percent of the servers that went out for the quarter. By revenue, Windows server shipments' $6.3 billion in revenue accounted for 42.1 percent of the quarterly total. Linux-based servers continue to improve, as well, with 29.3 percent quarterly revenue growth to $2.5 billion and 9.8 percent shipment growth to 450,000 units.

Both operating system classes benefited from a fast-growing x86 market, which enjoyed 21.4 percent revenue growth in Q4, accounted for 2.0 million of the 2.1 million total shipments and claimed 59.7 percent of all server spending.

Ranking vendors by revenue market share for the full year, IBM held the top spot at 31.9 percent, helped in part by freakishly good performance in its mainframe unit. HP was a very close second at 31.8 percent, and while Dell came in third at 14.6 percent. Round Rock's revenues were improving the fastest -- they were 34 percent higher than in 2009.

Despite the rising market, Sun's server revenues have cratered since Oracle acquired the Unix server maker on Jan. 27, 2010. Sun server revenues declined 14 percent and its market share hit 6.8 percent.

Posted by Scott Bekker on March 01, 2011