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Workstations turn a corner

Shipments of workstations show a slight improvement in the third quarter, and Big Blue nabs third place from Sun Microsystems.

Shipments of workstations grew for the second consecutive quarter after a string of declines, according to market researcher Gartner Dataquest.

Dataquest found that number of workstations shipped worldwide during the third quarter increased 1.6 percent from the second quarter, a 6.5 percent increase from the same period last year. A total of 367,710 units were shipped.

The growth pattern reverses a trend of five quarters of year-over-year declines that postdated the record shipments of 2000. Although the number of workstations shipped during the third quarter is nowhere near the 2000 record figures, analysts said the increase in shipments could mark a bright spot amid a weak economy.

"Any sign of growth is a welcome change," Dataquest analyst Pia Rieppo said in a statement. "Given that this is only the second consecutive quarter of modest growth, we're hesitant to say the workstation market is completely out of the woods."

The Dataquest survey found that Dell Computer increased its lead as the No. 1 workstation seller, shipping 40.5 percent of machines in the quarter. Hewlett-Packard took the second slot, shipping 22.1 percent, followed by IBM, which surpassed Sun Microsystems to take over the No. 3 slot. IBM shipped 15.3 percent of the machines, and Sun shipped 14.4 percent.

Rieppo praised Dell's streamlined, three-model approach to the market, saying its competitors have been slowed because they offer too many product options.

"Other vendors are able to help clients migrate from legacy platforms to commodity architecture or deal with compatibility within a heterogeneous environment, but they expand great effort and money in doing so," Rieppo said.

However, she commended the companies for changing their strategies in order to increase their shipments, which include embracing the new mobile workstation technology and abandoning low-growth markets.