The third quarter results are evidence that, despite sharing much of the same core technologies, PCs and workstations aren't the same thing.
"Consumer-grade PCs might be suffering at the hands of tablets and smartphones, but these alternative computing devices do not present the same threat to workstations," points out Herrera.
"If your usage is limited to email, social media and web-browsing, then a tablet might be an attractive replacement for your PC, but the same doesn't hold for professionals that demand the utmost in performance, reliability and ergonomics. For engineers, scientists, researchers and creators of all kinds, there is simply no substitute for a workstation."
"However," added Jon Peddie, "Tablets are finding their place alongside workstations as engineers take them into the field for checking drawings and capturing site data and pictures".
With 41.4% of units sold, HP maintained unquestioned control over the workstation market, clearly separating itself from Dell at 30.7%, down from the previous quarter's 32.5%. Lenovo continued its record of steady, rising to 13.3%, while Fujitsu rounded out the Tier 1 rankings with 3.9%. Herrera estimates that non Tier 1 suppliers were responsible for the remaining 10.8%.
The related market for professional graphics hardware had been stuck in the same doldrums as workstations, but the third quarter yielded good results for suppliers Nvidia and AMD as well. Sequentially, shipments fell 3.4% to around 1.06 million units, including both deskside add-in cards as well as mobile GPUs. But Herrera points out there were two sides to that coin.
"Mobile GPU shipments dropped dramatically for the quarter, but that was likely one quarter's aberration, rather than an indication of any systemic weakness in the segment," Herrera explained. "Consider instead the 7.1% sequential gain in conventional professional graphics add-in cards, and the quarter's results do far more to bolster our confidence than erode it."