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Itanium vendors spanked by IBM, Sun and Dell

Rough going for the Itanic in Q3

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The curse of the Itanic continued to haunt HP in the third quarter. The server maker suffered through the period as the only Tier 1 unable to post a significant uptick in sales. Most of HP's woes appear to have resulted from flagging high-end server sales, as some customers side with Itanium, while others move to IBM and Sun Microsystems.

All told, worldwide server shipments rose 13 per cent to 2m units during the third quarter, according to a fresh data plop from Gartner. The vendors combined to sell $13bn worth of kit - a 4 per cent year-over-year rise.

Sun and Dell - the oddest couple - led the revenue charge. Sun's sales increased a stunning 25 per cent, while Dell enjoyed a nice turnaround on the back of an 11 per cent sales hike. IBM boosted sales as well by 7 per cent.

HP joined Fujitsu as the biggest losers in the quarter. HP's sales slipped 6 per cent, and Fujitsu's fell 9 per cent.

We'll let you guess which two of the five vendors mentioned sell Itanium-based servers.

HP remains the server shipment leader (541,000 units), followed by Dell (460,000 units), IBM (333,000 units), Sun (83,000 units) and Fujitsu (65,000 units).

In terms of revenue, IBM is still king at $4.4bn in sales, followed by HP at $3.3bn, Dell at $1.4bn, Sun at $1.3bn and Fujitsu at $634m, according to Gartner.

Much of the third quarter action happened in the Unix/Itanium realm where Sun kept its shipments lead but lost its revenue title to IBM.

IBM saw its Unix server sales jump 12 per cent, while Sun's rose 20 per cent. HP, by contrast, watched its high-end server sales fall 21 per cent. Fujitsu's sales fell 10 per cent, and Bull's sales fell 12 per cent.

We'll let you guess which three of the five vendors mentioned sell Itanium-based servers.

The Itanic crowd's pains likely stem from the transition taking place in recent months to Intel's new dual-core version of the 64-bit ship. The "Montecito" flavor of Itanium represents a significant performance boost over previous product, and boxes based on the processor are just starting to make their way to customers in earnest.

HP has been enjoying a rising Itanium business, but is watching Unix server sales (Alpha/PA-RISC) fall at a faster rate. For example, HP's high-end server revenue dipped 4 per cent in its most recent quarter, despite a 77 per cent rise in Itanium sales.

Now that CEO Mark Hurd's cost-cutting exercises are over, he can face off with Itanium and really try to convince us of his magic touch. ®

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