Revenue from the disk storage market has defied predictions of a decline to show a 12 per cent rise compared with the previous quarter.
According to analyst IDC, the total global revenue for the sector was $5.4bn (£3.3bn) in the fourth quarter of 2002.
This represented a strong sequential growth in a depressed market and came as a boost for the industry, which was expecting a sales decline of 20 per cent.
"The fourth quarter's results were similar to what we have seen in the server market," said John McArthur, group vice president of storage research at IDC.
"We expect to see a return to more normal seasonal changes as companies have already made their major adjustments to storage spending."
IDC said the market was highly consolidated, and that continuing fierce competition during the last quarter had resulted in several statistical ties.
In this period Hewlett Packard (HP) and IBM tied for the number one position.
Beneath the top tier the analyst found a three-way statistical tie for the number four place, between Sun Microsystems, Dell and Hitachi.
However, IDC noted that Sun posted the strongest growth among the three, with 17 per cent sequential growth from the third quarter of 2002.
IDC's Worldwide Disk Storage Systems Quarterly Tracker research also found that the total external storage system market revenue increased 12 per cent sequentially in the fourth quarter.
HP kept its number one position, with revenue share of 21 per cent. IBM and EMC, with 17 per cent share each, tied for second.
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