Worldwide server shipments in 2006 totaled 8,2-million units in 2006, an 8,9% increase from 2005, while worldwide server revenue in 2006 reached $52,7-billion, up 2% from 2005, according to Gartner. 

"The fourth quarter of the year exhibited slower growth in x86 servers than we have seen in most recent years, which constrained the results for the year as a whole," says Jeffrey Hewitt, research vice-president at Gartner. "Most of that slowdown seems to be attributable to a lengthening of the sales cycle due to the anticipated introduction of quad-core x86 processors with some lesser impact from x86 server virtualisation.
"RISC-Itanium Unix servers were weak for the year on a global basis, falling 1,6% in shipments and 0,8% in revenue," Hewitt says. "Mainframes had the strongest revenue growth of any segment for the year pushing ahead 3,9% over 2005."
IBM continued to lead the worldwide server market based on revenue in 2006. The company ended the year with an increase in revenue (1,7% for 2006).
Gartner analysts attribute the company¹s performance to 10,3% growth in System z/zSeries and 7% growth in System x/xSeries, while System p/pSeries and System i/iSeries revenue dropped for the year (1,2% and 14,1%, respectively).
Of the top five global vendors, only Sun gained revenue share for the year. By pushing its share ahead 1,2% to reach 10,8%, Sun reversed a yearly revenue share decline trend that had been occurring since 2001.
In server shipments, Hewlett-Packard remained the worldwide leader for 2006. Its shipment growth was 8%. The ProLiant brand grew 8,5% in shipments for the year while HP Integrity climbed 30,1%. All other HP brands declined for the year, which combined with the growth of ProLiant and Integrity, produced the final 2006 result.
Of the top 10 vendors in server shipments worldwide, Rackable Systems had the highest growth, with a 68% increase for the year. The only other vendor in the top 10 to increase its shipment share was NEC (0,2%).
Blade servers continue to be a high-growth segment, with a revenue increase of 36,5% and a shipment increase of 33% for the year. IBM remained in the lead with blades, but HP pulled closer, as it narrowed the revenue share gap by 2,8%. IBM ended the year with a 41,1% revenue share of blades while HP finished the year with a 32,5% share. These two vendors continued to dominate this form factor and totaled almost 74% of the worldwide blade revenue share for 2006.
In Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA), server shipments totalled 2,48-million units in 2006, a 6,8% increase from 2005. Server revenue totalled $17-billion in 2006, a 2% increase from 2005.
"2006 was a fairly positive year for the server market in EMEA with both shipments and revenue growing, although as we predicted shipment growth did slow compared with 2005, which was an exceptionally strong year," says Samina Malik, principal research analyst at Gartner. "Fourth quarter server shipments in EMEA grew 4,3% in 2006, while revenue grew 4,6% year on year."
IBM overtook Hewlett-Packard to become the top vendor based on revenue. IBM's increase was largely driven by its x86 business as well as strong System z sales in the region. Although HP performed well with its x86-based ProLiant line in particular, its overall results were constrained by weaker performances from its AlphaServer and NonStop lines. Sun Microsystems posted the strongest revenue growth of the top five vendors, driven by server product refreshes within its installed base as well as winning some new business.
Based on server shipments, Hewlett-Packard maintained its top position with shipments growing 8,5% compared to last year. IBM and Dell remained in their respective second and the third positions, with just over 10 000 units separating the two vendors. ³Fujitsu Siemens was the only vendor among the top five manufacturers to record a year on year shipment decline in 2006, but despite this, the company managed to secure its fourth position," Malik added.