Workstation market ends 2013 on a high note

Latest Jon Peddie Research report shows Dell gaining ground on the competition.

Jon Peddie Research says 2013 proved to be a good year for the tandem markets of workstations and professional GPUs. In the fourth quarter, the market continued onward and upward, holding on to the substantial gains of the previous two quarters, closing out a healthy 2013.

Dell workstations are gaining ground against the competition, even as the larger workstation market continues to grow. (Source: Dell)
Dell workstations are gaining ground against the competition, even as the larger workstation market continues to grow. (Source: Dell)

Worldwide, the industry shipped approximately 971,600 workstations in the fourth quarter of 2013, essentially flat (-0.2%) from 3Q13 and up 4.0% from the same quarter a year ago. That figure nearly eclipsed the record 1.0 million units the market set back in 2011. Given the quarter was sequentially flat but exhibited respectable year-over-year (YoY) growth rate (4.0%), JPR labels 4Q13 as another positive quarter in the market’s steady, albeit unhurried, journey forward.

With growth coming in at a modest but healthy 3% (units), 2013 was the first year since 2007 that the global workstation market behaved more according to historical norms, finally removed from the tumultuous period of 2008-2012. JPR senior analyst and Workstation Report author Alex Herrera explains, “Like virtually every other market, workstations suffered through the global recession at the tail end of 2008 and through 2009. Conversely, 2010 and 2011 saw uncharacteristically hot—but unsustainable—growth as the market rebounded. 2012 appeared to pay for that exuberance, seeing a modest decline while the markets appeared to ‘digest’ previous years’ indulgence.”

Herrera also sees 2013 as a seminal juncture in the evolution of the workstation market. “We may very well look back at 2013 as the year the workstation and PC markets went their separate ways. For years, as workstations adopted PC technology, and as both platforms were viewed as primary—and indispensable—computing devices, the two markets tended to behave as mirror images. But as alternative computing devices like tablets and smartphones have taken hold to challenge PCs, especially in consumer markets, 2013 changed that paradigm … such devices pose no serious threat to workstations, and the two markets are no longer marching in unison.”

Dell is making progress

The market shares of the four Tier 1 OEMs proved generally stable in the fourth quarter of 2013. With 39.9% of units sold (flat from Q1), HP continues to dominate the workstation market, with #2 Dell at 32.5%. Lenovo and Fujitsu shipped 12.9% and 3.9% of units to round out the “big four”.

If there was any vendor making a move worth noting in 4Q13, it was Dell. After a long decline, particularly in the 2009-2011 period, Dell made a very conscious decision to recommit itself to the workstation marketplace. And while recently quarterly results aren’t chart-busting, they have decidedly turned in the company’s favor. The fourth quarter continued to show modest-but-measurable improvement in Dell’s unit share, jumping another 1.3 points.

Professional graphics market stays on growth path

The professional graphics industry, composed almost exclusively of the Nvidia/AMD duopoly, shipped around 1.3 million workstation-caliber GPUs in the third quarter, including both mobile modules and deskside add-in cards. Volume represented a year-over-year gain of 10.3%.

For the full calendar year 2013, about 4.9 million professional-branded graphics hardware units were sold (including mobile units), representing 9.6% growth relative to 2012. Perhaps the highlight of 2013 was the strength of ASPs, putting revenue at even healthier levels in 2013 than unit volume.

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