Despite a decline of two per cent in the second quarter of 2004, the global market for local area network (Lan) switches remains up 23 per cent year over year, the latest market research from IDC has found.
According to the analyst firm's Worldwide LAN Switch Qview, the slight decline in the second quarter of 2004 follows 13 per cent growth in the first quarter.
The study found that Cisco remains the market leader by a "long margin". HP is in second place, with Nortel, 3Com and Extreme not far behind.
IDC said the "battle for second place" is proving to be long and drawn out. According to the analyst's figures, over the past two years no single vendor has been able to rise above the fray and maintain a second place spot in the market with over six per cent share.
HP and 3Com were found to have come closest, with Nortel at their heels, while Extreme and Foundry are "tantalisingly close" to each obtaining three per cent market share.
"Despite the dip this quarter, we believe that 2004 will be a growth year for Lan switching, currently forecasted at around three per cent," said IDC analyst Max Flisi in a statement.
"Gigabit is certainly one of the main drivers, having already surpassed fast ethernet in revenue terms in 1Q04. We expect this trend to continue as gigabit to the desktop and in datacentres becomes more prevalent.
"Meanwhile, prices are gradually coming down. In light of that, we see 10-gigabit ethernet ports, which are commonly used to aggregate gigabit connections, also increasing at an elegant pace."
Because of the market's maturity, vendors are diving deeper into particular markets and segments, be they technical, such as security; vertical, such as government or financial services; or demographic, like small-medium business, said IDC.
According to the research 3Com, Enterasys, and Extreme each inched up by 0.2 per cent in market share of end-user revenue. All others were either flat or slightly down.
Foundry and Extreme were found to be shipping fixed 10-gigabit ethernet ports. The 10-gig market grew 24 per cent sequentially in both revenue and port shipment terms.
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