Still Clamoring For The Unix Lead

UPDATED: Who’s the leader in Unix operating system revenue?

IBM claimed in a press release this week that it was growing its Unix revenue year over year, while Sun Microsystems lost share year to year.

Sun issued its own press release this week claiming that it is the number one Unix platform server vendor in the world, in both revenue and unit shipments. It turns out they are both right.

Both IBM and Sun based their claims on Gartner Dataquest’s second quarter, 2005 Worldwide Server Database, not yet publicly released.

The data reveals that IBM did increase its Unix revenues on a year over year basis by nearly 33 percent. In comparison, Sun Microsystems had a negative 7 percent growth on a year over year basis.

According to the second quarter, 2005 data, Sun still holds the lead with 33 percent of the market, even though it slipped from a 38 percent share in Gartner’s figures from the same time a year ago.

HP held on to second place with 29 percent, same as last year’s second quarter. IBM grew from 23 percent share in Q2 2004 to a 28 percent share in the second quarter of this year.

Sun also topped the list of Unix vendors by shipments with a 57 percent market share and growth of 11 percent on a quarter to quarter basis, though a decline of 4 percent on a year over year basis. IBM came in second with a 20 percent market share of shipments, which was a quarterly decline of 7 percent. though still up on a year over year basis by 10 percent.

Mark Richardson, Sun spokesperson, explained that Sun’s year comparisons are low because they had a particularly strong year last year fueled by Sun’s own UltraSPARC IV systems ramping up.

“We are extremely pleased that we have a leadership position in Unix,”
Richardson told “We have a strong product lineup with SPARC and x64 systems, and we should return to revenue growth and revenue share growth.”

Sun claimed its X86-64 platform server revenue was up by 379 percent on a year-to-year bases and shipment up by 275 percent on the same measure.

IBM, however, has a somewhat different view of the Unix landscape.

“Our revenues continue to grow. We’ve grown 11 out of the last 12 quarters and we don’t see anything that’s fundamentally changing,” said Karl Freund, vice-president of pSeries products for IBM’s Systems and Technology Group.

“We grew 36 percent in the second quarter they grew low single digits. That would tell us whether they are number one or not; they certainly aren’t going to stay number one.”

IBM holds the top spot overall in terms of vendor server revenues with a 30 percent share. HP came in second at 27 percent; Sun was third at 13 and Dell fourth at 10 percent.

Although Unix is under pressure from Windows and Linux operating systems, it still continues to grow.

Windows is the leading OS by revenue with a 34.42 percent market share, according to Gartner. That translates to a year over year growth rate of 7.8 percent.

Unix revenue market share for 2Q05 ranked at 33.84 percent, which represents growth of 6.6 percent. Linux represented a scant 10 percent of revenues, though it is growing at the fastest rate: 32 percent year over year.

Freund said UNIX’s growth is all coming from IBM.

“If you took us out of the Unix market you’d actually see a shrinking Unix market or flat as Gartner calls it,” Freund said.

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