Study: Japan's server shipments steadily grew in 2001

Although the year 2001 was characterised by a slump in the IT sector and a sluggish world economy, Japan's server market in 2001 still showed steady growth, especially in the high-end open server sector, according to a survey by Gartner Japan.

A total of 460,000 servers were shipped in Japan in 2001, a 19.4 percent increase from the previous year, according to the estimates from Gartner. Despite the increase in shipments, the total value of those shipments fell 1.7 percent to ¥890 billion (US$6.7 billion), as a result of a continuing fall in the average unit price of servers.

"The results showed that the demands that corporations and organizations have for strengthening their business infrastructure using IT are still steady," said Tadaaki Mataga, a senior analyst at Gartner Japan. "However, as the (Japanese) economy is worsening and vendors are starting to reduce investments, the growth rate of 2002 is expected to be lower than the 2001 figure."

By segment, ¥100 million (US$745,000) servers, including Unix servers and PC servers, showed healthy growth of 125 percent in unit shipments, Gartner said. Sales of high-end Unix servers had been pushed by vendors, such as Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems followed by IBM, which recently became more aggressive in this segment of the market, Mataga said.

At the same time, however, demand for mainframes has not seen a large decrease, Gartner said. "The economic downturn is supporting mainframe servers," Mataga said. "Users are seeking a more stable solution without risk and trying to minimize investments on IT infrastructure by keeping the old systems. Companies like IBM and Fujitsu Ltd. are targeting such demand and providing mainframe servers," he said.

NEC Corp. ranked as the top vendor in entire server shipments with a share of 20.3 percent in the PC server segment. In value terms, Fujitsu held the top share of 20.1 percent, followed by IBM.

Unix server shipments are dominated by Sun Microsystems with a 52.6 percent share, however, Hewlett-Packard, which had a 16.1 percent share of shipments, took over the top share in the Unix server sector in value terms, Gartner said.

"Hewlett-Packard has come back as the top vendor for the first time since 1998," Mataga said. "This shows Sun Microsystems' unexpected fall. The company has been seeking a way to expand its server business and shifting its direction to adopt Linux for its business initiatives."