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Total worldwide server revenue for all suppliers was $10.6bn (£6.8bn) for the quarter, a 5.6% decline over last year's third quarter, during which businesses struggled with the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in the US.
That 5.6% decrease is the smallest year-on-year drop the server market has seen in the last eight quarters, according to IDC, which hailed the slowing decline as a sign that the server market is stabilising. Results in the fourth quarter should continue to improve, the research firm said.
Dell's server revenue for the quarter climbed 7.5% to $920m worldwide, placing it fourth for market share based on revenue.
Market leader IBM, with nearly a 30% share, saw its revenue slip 0.4%, while number-two vendor Hewlett-Packard's revenue dropped 15.8% to $2.88bn. Sun Microsystems ranked third, with revenue down 3.4% at $1.28bn.
IDC's findings tally with Gartner's third-quarter figures, released in October. Calculating according to unit shipments rather than revenue, Gartner reported 18.1% growth for Dell worldwide amid declines for IBM and HP.
Sun, however, posted growth according to the Gartner data, with unit shipments up 17.5% year-on-year worldwide.