HP Pulled Ahead of Dell in the Recovering Q3 Workstation Market

HP gained an appreciable lead over competitor Dell in the workstation space during the third quarter, which showed "robust" growth, according to a Jon Peddie Research report.

Led by Hewlett-Packard and Dell, the workstation market is on a steady march back to pre-economic-downfall levels, Jon Peddie Research reported in a Dec. 7 statement.

During the third quarter, the industry shipped 849,700 workstations, representing a 31.8 percent year-over-year growth. Moreover, JPR analyst Alex Herrera found the quarter to be "Goldilocks-ideal: not too hot, not too cold." Sequential growth was 6.9 percent-an ideally moderate figure said to reduce the potential for a "double-dip recovery."

HP and Dell have competed aggressively in this space, with HP grabbing the lead in the third quarter of 2009 and Dell quickly afterward surging to compete neck-and-neck. During the most recent quarter, however, HP proved itself to be "decidedly back on top as workstation volume leader," said the statement. Establishing an "appreciable gap" during the quarter, HP commanded 40.5 percent of the market to Dell's 37.5 percent market share.

"The question is not so much about where HP's fortunes are headed," wrote JPR, "but more whether Dell is willing-and the firm believes it's able, provided it's willing-to keep up." In the workstation-related market for professional graphics hardware, the third quarter went beyond the expected slowdown and into an actual dip. Worldwide, units totaled 1.14 million shipments, which was down 9.5 percent sequentially and beyond what JPR calls a "typical cyclical norm." Despite the double dip, the firm found an unexpected upside.

"Herrera believes the second dip was likely more symptomatic of exaggerated cyclical conditions than an indication of another substantial dive for both graphics and workstations," reports JPR. "Because by no means was the whole professional graphics market down. Mobiles were essentially flat, and there was good news to be found in the near 9 percent sequential growth of 3D cards (as both Nvidia and AMD were ramping new generation models)."

Dragging down the market, then, was the 2D card sub-segment, which fell to 333,600 from 497,500 the quarter before. Again, however, JPR was optimistic, offering that shipments had been "running a bit too hot" earlier, and the fall likely isn't indicative of any longer-term trends.

In the mainstream PC market, HP similarly bested Dell during the third quarter, shipping 15.4 million units worldwide, for 17.5 percent of the market. However, also outselling Dell was Acer, which shipped 11.5 million units to Dell's 10.8 million, according to an October report from Gartner.

In the United States, HP still came out on top, with 4.5 million units shipping, but Dell was close behind, with sales of 4.2 million units. Acer finished well behind in third place, shipping 1.8 million units, followed by Apple, with 1.8 million units, and Toshiba, with 1.6 million.