Demand for servers grew worldwide for the third consecutive quarter as businesses continue to increase spending in IT equipment after years of financial restraint, according to sales figures released by IDC.
Globally, factory sales of servers increased 11.4% in the fourth quarter of 2003 to $13.7bn from $12.3bn in the same period the year before.
For the first time since the economic downturn in 2001, sales of servers grew in all major categories, ranging from volume servers (priced less than $25,000) to mid-range enterprise servers ($25,000 to $499,999) and high-end servers ($500,000 and more).
Sales of servers with the open-source Linux operating system rose 63.1% to $960m in the fourth quarter compared with the same period the previous year, and unit shipments grew 52.5% year on year.
The market for servers equipped with Microsoft Windows operating system saw fourth-quarter sales increase 16.1% year on year to $3.9bn, representing 31.7% of total server revenue in the quarter.
Unix-based server revenue was $5.1bn in the fourth quarter, up 0.8% over the same quarter the previous year, showing the first year-on-year growth in 11 quarters,.
Total server revenue in 2003 was $45.7bn, up 3.2% from $44.3bn the previous year.
IBM maintained its position in the server market with a 37.9% share of factory revenue in the fourth quarter. Its fourth-quarter revenue climbed 17.7% to $5.2bn.
In second position was Hewlett-Packard with a 25.8% share of market revenue, followed by Sun Microsystems with 10.4%.
With a market share of 8.6%, Dell took fourth place for factory revenue. The company had fourth-quarter revenue of $1.2bn, representing a year-on-year increase of 19%.
Europe's Fujitsu Siemens Computers held the fifth position with a market share of 5.4%. Its revenue in the fourth quarter grew 31.3% to $734m.
John Blau writes for IDG News Service