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More Gartner voodoo – IBM now on top

Funny numbers

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The tricky analysts at Gartner have pulled a fast one on rival IDC by ranking IBM ahead of HP as the worldwide server revenue leader in the first quarter.

Earlier this week, Gartner admitted to restating years of server data after noticing large errors between its numbers and actual vendor sales.

For example, Gartner's restated figures for HP's RISC server sales in Q4 were off by an astonishing 70 percent. Gartner first said HP had gained 54 percent in RISC revenue. The "whoops, we're sorry!", new figures showed HP had actually lost 16 per cent of revenue in the quarter.

In the new batch of stats for the first quarter, IBM enjoyed a 8 percent year-on-year gain in total server revenue, capping out at $3.2 billion in sales, Gartner said. This compares to a 7 percent loss in revenue at HP, placing it in second place worldwide with $2.6 billion in sales.

Overall, the server market decreased 1 percent year-on-year to $10.6 billion.

The analysts at Gartner and IDC have managed to muddy the waters around these numbers in several ways. IDC, for example, is only crediting IBM with $2.68 billion in sales for the first quarter versus $2.94 billion from HP.

There's quite a discrepancy between the Gartner and IDC numbers, and it's hard to tell just how these researchers come up with their data. It seems the vendors can stay mum when they see mistakes happening and let the analysts hang themselves in public gaffes.

Margins of error of 70 per cent would not be tolerated by financial analysts, of course. Gartner, however, is assuring clients that it has cleaned house and brought its figures up to speed, so the first quarter data can be trusted.

Gartner has Sun following IBM and HP in third place for total sales. Sun had one of its worst quarters in recent memory, showing a 20 percent decline in revenue year-on-year to $1.4 billion. Dell is now nipping at Sun for the third spot after posting a 23 percent rise on revenue to $938 million. Sun still holds the top spot among Unix/RISC vendors, and HP is tops with Intel-based systems.

However, there's a 0.7 per cent probability that these figures are garbage, too.

More transparency from the analysts would be welcome. If only to allay the suspicion that analysts derive their figures from the vendors' marketing departments, add but the lightest sprinkling of statistical voodoo, and then pass them onto us as real research. &reg.

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