"2013 presented some pronounced differences in various server market segments", stated 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 stated.
In the fourth quarter of 2013, the regions with the highest growth rates in terms of unit shipments were Asia/Pacific - 16.3 percent, Japan - 7.5 percent, and North America - relatively flat at 0.01 percent. All regions declined in vendor revenue except Asia/Pacific, which grew by 0.6 percent year over year.
HP led the worldwide server market in revenue terms in the fourth quarter of 2013. The company ended the year with $3.8 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter, for a total share of 28.1 percent worldwide. This was up 6.0 percent 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 percent.
In server shipments, HP remained the worldwide leader for the fourth quarter of 2013 with a year-over-year shipment increase of 8.7 percent.
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 percent.
The results for the quarter were centred around x86 server demand, which increased in shipments by 3.8 percent and revenue by 4.3 percent for the fourth quarter of 2013.
The year of 2013 demonstrated growth in shipments with an increase of 2.1 percent, but revenue declined 4.5 percent with varying geographic results. x86 servers continued to produce some growth as the predominant platform used for large-scale data centre 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 percent and a shipment decrease of 2.6 percent for the year. HP was the 2013 leader in x86 blade server shipments with 40.3 percent market share; Cisco was in second place with 15.9 percent 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.
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 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012. Server shipments totaled 613,000 units in the final quarter of 2013, a decrease of 2.5 percent from the same period of the previous year. Server shipments in 2013 declined 5.6 percent to total 2.3 million units, and server revenue dropped 6.3 percent to total $12.4 billion in 2013.
"The EMEA server market continued to suffer as it recorded its 10th consecutive quarterly revenue decline", stated 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 percent year-over-year decrease. Western Europe declined 4.9 percent, while the Middle East and Africa saw a 6.8 percent drop in revenue.
In the fourth quarter of 2013, x86 server revenue increased 1.4 percent, while RISC/Itanium Unix revenue declined 20.1 percent. Revenue in the Other CPU segment decreased 35.7 percent. 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", stated 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 percent in the quarter made it lose 7 percentage 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", stated 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."