Global sales of external server storage have dropped for the first time since 2009, according to data from research firm IDC.
IDC said that first-quarter sales fell in developed markets, causing an overall decline of 0.9% year on year in worldwide external server storage revenue. Revenue during the first quarter of 2013 came to $5.91 billion, down from $5.97 billion a year earlier.
The firm said that total server storage sales for the quarter, including the smaller market for storage components located inside server cabinets, slipped 3.2% year on year. IDC said the quarterly figures got a boost from emerging markets, but that wasn't enough for overall growth. Some major providers have also been hit by declining server sales and are in the midst of transitioning their product ranges.
The demand for large storage has exploded in recent years along with the rise of server-based or cloud computing, but per-bit prices have fallen as technology improves. IDC noted that the total server storage capacity shipped during the quarter totalled 7.8 exabytes (7.8 million terabytes), a 26.4% gain from the first quarter of 2012.
EMC was the global leader in storage shipped by revenue, with a 23.2 percent global market share. It gained from a year earlier while second-ranked HP saw revenue slip and its share fall to 15.5% from 18.2%. Dell, IBM and NetApp rounded out the top five, which together make up over three-quarters of the entire market.
IDC defines external storage systems as those with three or more disks, including equipment such as controllers and cables, that are located outside of server cabinets. It does not include OEM (original equipment manufacturer) sales for components that are re-branded and sold on the open market.