Worldwide Server Market Revenues Decrease 2.4% in First Quarter as Market Growth Slows in Face of Market Transitions, According to IDC

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.--()--According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, factory revenue in the worldwide server market decreased 2.4% year over year to $11.8 billion in the first quarter of 2012 (1Q12). This is the second consecutive quarter of year-over-year revenue decline, as the server market faced difficult year-over-year compares in several market segments. Server unit shipments increased 2.7% year over year in 1Q12 to 2.0 million units, which is the second highest quarterly total ever reported in the first calendar quarter of any year.

On a year-over-year basis, volume systems experienced 2.1% revenue growth. This was the ninth time in the previous ten quarters that volume system demand improved year over year. At the same time, demand for midrange and high-end systems experienced year-over-year revenue declines of 11.2% and 10.2% respectively in 1Q12. The midrange and high-end were impacted by difficult year-over-year compares combined with transitions in the technology refresh cycles typical for these segments.

"The server market worked through a transitional period in the first quarter of 2012 as suppliers prepared to introduce numerous critically important x86 server offerings. At the same time, difficult year-over-year compares helped distort some results across other segments of the market," said Matt Eastwood, group vice president and general manager, Enterprise Platforms at IDC. "Regionally, Americas was flat year-over-year while EMEA experienced a sharp double-digit decline in server spending. However, the larger concern for server vendors was the sharply lower revenue growth in Asia/Pacific, including China. China is one of only three countries that regularly spend more than $1 billion quarterly on servers and any sustained reduction in revenue growth would be troubling for the market."

Overall Server Market Standings, by Vendor

HP held the number 1 position in the worldwide server market with 29.3% factory revenue share for 1Q12. HP's 9.8% revenue decline included stalled demand for x86-based ProLiant servers, which was consistent with the industry, and continued weakness in Itanium-based Integrity server revenue. IBM held the number 2 spot with 27.3% share for the quarter as factory revenue decreased 7.3% compared to 1Q11. Demand for IBM's Power Systems and x86-based System x servers was flat year-over-year while demand for System z declined significantly in the quarter due to the combined effects of a strong year-over-year compare and the end of a refresh cycle. Dell maintained the third position with 15.6% factory revenue market share in 1Q12 as factory revenue decreased 2.0% compared to 1Q11. Oracle maintained the number 4 position with 6.1% factory revenue share; Oracle's 1Q12 factory revenue decreased 7.3% compared to 1Q11. Fujitsu ended the quarter in a statistical tie* for the number 4 position with 5.2% factory revenue share following a 7.3% year-over-year increase in server revenue.

Top Server Market Findings

  • Linux server demand was positively impacted by high performance computing (HPC) and cloud infrastructure deployments, as hardware revenue improved 16.0% year over year in 1Q12 to $2.4 billion. Linux servers now represent 20.7% of all server revenue, up 3.3 points when compared with the first quarter of 2011.
  • Microsoft Windows server demand was up 1.3% year over year in 1Q12 with quarterly server hardware revenue totaling $5.9 billion representing 50.2% of overall quarterly factory revenue, up 1.8 points over the prior year's quarter.
  • Unix servers experienced a revenue decline of 17.2% year over year to $2.2 billion representing 18.3% of quarterly server revenue for the quarter. IBM's Unix server revenue declined 3.7% year-over-year and gained 6.3 points of Unix server market share when compared with the first quarter of 2011.
  • The market for non-x86 servers, including servers based on RISC, EPIC (Itanium-based), and CISC processors, declined 16.1% year over year to $3.4 billion in 1Q12. This is the third consecutive quarter in which non-x86 servers have exhibited a revenue decline. Non-x86 based systems now comprise 28.5% of the server market, the lowest level ever reported in IDC's quarterly server tracker.

"The Unix server refresh has largely ended as the Unix server market is in decline again, driven by workload consolidation and migration to competing platforms," said Kuba Stolarski, research manager, Enterprise Servers at IDC. "Recent heightened awareness of the future of Itanium is also pressing down on customer demand for non-x86 servers and price competition is helping to drive down revenues in this segment. IDC expects the Unix server market to stabilize over the next few years and remain a smaller, specialized segment of the overall server market."

Bladed Server Market Results

The blade market continued its growth in the quarter with factory revenue increasing 7.3% year over year, with shipment growth increasing by 4.8% compared to 1Q11. Overall, bladed servers, including x86, EPIC, and RISC blades, accounted for $2.0 billion in revenues, representing 16.6% of quarterly server market revenue. More than 90% of all blade revenue is driven by x86-based blades, which now represent 21.3% of all x86 server revenue. HP maintained the number 1 spot in the server blade market in 1Q12 with 46.1% revenue share, while IBM finished with 18.9% revenue share. Cisco and Dell rounded out the top 4 with 12.8% and 8.7% factory revenue share, respectively. Cisco's blade server revenue increased 48.8% year over year and gained 3.6 points of blade server market share when compared with the first quarter of 2011.

"Modular form factors drove the server market in the first quarter, with blades increasing 7.3% annually and density optimized servers increasing 38.8% annually. Blades now account for 16.6% of all server revenue, while density optimized accounts for 4.5%," said Jed Scaramella, research manager, Enterprise Servers at IDC. "In the first quarter of 2012, several vendors announced converged solutions for blade platforms; IDC expects these to ramp into the market starting in the second quarter delivering IT organizations an integrated system for server, storage, and network."

x86 Industry Standard Server Market Dynamics

Demand for x86 servers weakened in 1Q12 in advance of Intel's Xeon E5 dual-socket server processor launch in March. Overall revenues increased 4.5% in the quarter to $8.4 billion worldwide as unit shipments increased 3.2% to 1.9 million servers. HP led the market with 35.3% revenue share based on 2.8% revenue decline over 1Q11. Dell retained second place, securing 21.8% revenue share, while IBM now holds 15.2% revenue share. Overall, this was the ninth quarter out of the previous ten quarters with year-over-year increases in average selling prices for x86 servers as both the mix of systems and average system configurations continue to move up-market, driving generally higher product margin for x86 ecosystem players. Additionally, this was the tenth consecutive quarter of year-over-year shipment growth for x86 servers with particular strength in all regions except Canada and Middle East & Africa in 1Q12.

Top 5 Corporate Family, Worldwide Server Systems Factory Revenue, First Quarter of 2012

(Revenues are in Millions)

Vendor 1Q12 Revenue

1Q12 Market

1Q11 Revenue

1Q11 Market


1. HP $3,460 29.3% $3,838 31.7% -9.8%
2. IBM $3,223 27.3% $3,477 28.8% -7.3%
3. Dell $1,842 15.6% $1,879 15.5% -2.0%
4. Oracle $718 6.1% $775 6.4% -7.3%
4. Fujitsu $614 5.2% $573 4.7% 7.3%
Others $1,950 16.5% $1,551 12.8% 25.8%
All Vendors $11,808 100% $12,093 100% -2.4%

Source: IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, May 2012


Note: *IDC declares a statistical tie in the worldwide server market when there is less than one percent difference in the revenue share of two or more vendors.

In addition to the table above, a bar chart showing the comparative market shares for the top 5 vendors in the 1Q12 and 1Q11 worldwide server market is available at The chart is intended for public use in online news articles and social media. Instructions on how to embed this graphic can be found by viewing this press release on

IDC's Server Taxonomy

IDC's Server Taxonomy maps the eleven price bands within the server market into three price ranges: volume servers, midrange servers and high-end servers. The revenue data presented in this release is stated as factory revenue for a server system. IDC presents data in factory revenue to determine market share position. Factory revenue represents those dollars recognized by multi-user system and server vendors for ISS and upgrade units sold through direct and indirect channels and includes the following embedded server components: Frame or cabinet and all cables, processors, memory, communications boards, operating system software, other bundled software and initial internal and external disk shipments.

IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker is a quantitative tool for analyzing the global server market on a quarterly basis. The Tracker includes quarterly shipments (both ISS and upgrades) and revenues (both customer and factory), segmented by vendor, family, model, region, operating system, price band, CPU type, and architecture. For more information, please contact Lidice Fernandez at 305-351-3057 or

About IDC
International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 1,000 IDC analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. For more than 48 years, IDC has provided strategic insights to help our clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC is a subsidiary of IDG, the world's leading technology media, research, and events company. You can learn more about IDC by visiting

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International Data Corporation (IDC)
Matt Eastwood, 508-935-4503
Jed Scaramella, 508-935-4596
Michael Shirer, 508-935-4200

Release Summary

According to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, factory revenue in the worldwide server market decreased 2.4% year over year to $11.8 billion in the first quarter of 2012.


International Data Corporation (IDC)
Matt Eastwood, 508-935-4503
Jed Scaramella, 508-935-4596
Michael Shirer, 508-935-4200