Worldwide revenues from servers grew 6.2% in 2004, bringing the value of the market to $49 billion, according to analysts at IDC.
The sector continues to be dominated by its two giants, with IBM and Hewlett-Packard (HP) taking 60% of sales between them. As the year closed, IBM could claim a 38% share, 12% ahead of its nearest competitor HP and towering over Sun's 10% and Dell's 8%.
Unit shipment growth was running high in the fourth quarter, with 6.3 million servers shipping – 19% more than in the same period of 2003. While IBM commands the lead in terms of revenue, HP can still claim it shipped more units than any other vendor.
However, revenue growth was not consistent across the various levels of server. The best growth was evident at the low-end of the market (servers priced below $25,000). Revenues for x86 servers grew 14.4%, while unit shipments grew 16.8% to 1.6 million servers during the quarter. The doubling in size of the blade server market in 2004 to $1.1 billion helped boost that low-end segment. And IDC reports that in the US, blade servers now account for nearly 7% of all x86 shipments.
Demand for Unix servers rallied, rising 3% to $5.2 billion in the quarter, even as revenues for other mid-range and mainframe platforms declined. Meanwhile, Linux proved again to be the fastest-growing segment, with revenues rising 36% to $1.3 billion in the quarter.
In the EMEA region overall factory revenues grew 3% from the fourth quarter of 2003 to the final quarter of 2004. Revenue growth of 14.2% in the fourth quarter of 2004 in the central and eastern European countries that joined the EU last year lifted overall growth.