Gartner Revises Server Market Data

HP's numbers for the last quarter in 2002 moved from an increase to a decline.

Gartner Dataquest Inc. has revised U.S. server market data dating back to 2001, a move that has resulted in Hewlett-Packard Co.s numbers for the last quarter in 2002 moving from an increase to a decline.

According to the new numbers released late Monday, HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., saw its overall U.S. server market business and nationwide Unix server business each decline by 16 percent. Initial numbers released by Gartner in January indicated that HPs overall business had grown by 11 percent, and its Unix business by 54 percent.

At the same time, the revised numbers reduced the amount of business lost by Sun Microsystems Inc. Instead of a 27 percent decline in its overall U.S. business, the Santa Clara, Calif., companys business dropped only 15 percent. In the Unix space, the decline changed from 28 percent to 16 percent.

Dell Computer Corp., of Round Rock, Texas, also had its overall growth numbers pared a little, from 37 percent to 30 percent. IBMs growth stayed the same.

Jeffrey Hewitt, an analyst with Gartner Dataquest, said HPs financial schedule played a role in the numbers becoming skewed over the past couple of years. Every quarter, Gartners analysts take their initial quarterly estimates and pass them by the vendors for their input, Hewitt said.

But HP works on a fiscal schedule rather than a calendar schedule, and announces its earnings later in the quarter than most of its counterparts, he said. "They are out of sync, always a month off," Hewitt said. Because they usually were in their quiet period for its earnings release when Gartner was pulling its numbers together, HP officials could not always provide all the feedback that Gartner needed.

"So they were not able to give us the information at the time, or it was sketchy, and then we had to fill in the blanks," said Joseph Gonzalez, another Gartner analyst, in Austin, Texas.

Because one part of the equation is the financial numbers from the previous quarter, the result was inaccuracies that over two years built on each other, creating larger discrepancies, particularly in the RISC-based area of the market.

When the fourth-quarter 2002 numbers were released in January, HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., trumpeted them, while competitors questioned their accuracy. Gartner analysts who also had questions about the numbers, reviewed the data and, after working closely with HP, came up with the revised data, Hewitt said.

"Raising the 2001 numbers changes the trend," said Hewitt, in San Jose, Calif. "What was once a growth trend [for HP] now appears to be a decline."