For the three months ended Dec. 31, IBM posted worldwide server sales of $5.2 billion, up 26.4% from the same period in 2009. HP was second in overall sales, with revenue up 12.8% to $4.5 billion. Third-place Dell saw sales increase 26.4% to $1.9 billion while fourth-place Oracle suffered a 16.2% sales decline, to $806 million.
Revenue was also off for fifth-place Fujitsu, where sales fell .5% to $560 million. Revenues were up 15.8%, to $1.7 billion, for all other vendors.
IBM's high-end items, such as the System Z mainframe, helped it grab the top spot, as Big Blue actually trailed HP and Dell when it came to the number of units shipped in the fourth quarter. HP shipments were up 6.9%, to 767,026, while Dell's shipments rose 6.3% to 515,274. IBM shipments increased 3.8% to 332,254.
Overall, worldwide server sales were up 16.4%, to $14.7 billion, in the fourth quarter—a fact that Gartner analysts attributed to the introduction of new technologies and companies' need to replace aging hardware.
"2010 was a year that saw pent-up x86-based demand produce some significant growth on a worldwide level," said Gartner research VP Jeffrey Hewitt. "The introduction of new processors from Intel and AMD toward the end of 2009 helped fuel a pretty significant replacement cycle of servers that had been maintained in place during the economic downturn in 2009."
Hewitt also noted that IBM's introduction of POWER7-based mainframes also boosted the market, and helped the company increase mainframe revenues 68.3% in the quarter.
Geographically, North America saw the biggest increase in server sales, with revenues up 24.5%. Asia-Pacific revenues were up 22.4% while sales in Latin America increased 12.3%. The EMEA region (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) saw growth of 10.4%. Only Japan, where sales were down 4.4%, suffered a decline.
Gartner said it expects the worldwide server market to continue to grow in 2011, but at lower levels as the replacement cycle cools.