Increased corporate spending and seasonal growth pushed worldwide shipments of server computers to 1.6 million in the final quarter of 2003, up 24.5% from the previous year, according to Dataquest.
All the main suppliers increased their shipments in the quarter, which was the fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth for server shipments.
However, market leader Hewlett-Packard did lose some market share as rivals Dell and IBM, ranked second and third in the market, respectively, increased their share.
In the last quarter of 2002, HP held a 29.9% share of the market with 382,616 units shipped. In the fourth quarter of 2003, HP shipped 461,615 servers, accounting for 29% of the share.
In the same periods, Dell's market share grew from 19.2% to 20% and IBM's share rose from 15.4% to 17.2%.
HP leads the market worldwide and is also the number one supplier in terms of unit shipments in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America. In the US and Japan, Dell leads the market, while IBM is number one in Canada.
Of the 1,591,166 worldwide shipments in the fourth quarter of 2003, 653,365 units were shipped in the US. The EMEA region was the second biggest market with 527,216 units shipped, followed by Asia-Pacific with 197,496 units shipped.
Most of the server demand is still for lower-priced systems using x86-compatible processors such as those manufactured by Intel. However, the third quarter in 2003 was the first quarter of growth in two years for servers based on Risc chips, and this trend may continue, Dataquest said.
Sun Microsystems, a large supplier of Risc-based systems, shipped 83,833 servers in the fourth quarter of 2003, up from 62,914 the year before and good for a market share increase from 4.9% in the fourth quarter of 2002 to 5.3% in 2003.
Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service