After a stellar 2010, the networking market endured an up-and-down start to this year, with switching sales plummeting.
IDC reports that global Ethernet switch revenue in Q1 2011 stood at a little over $5bn (£3.1bn). This represents a year-on-year decline of 9.1 per cent, and a sequential slump of 12.5 per cent. During a buoyant 2010, the market repeatedly posted annual quarterly growth of more than 30 per cent.
"While we expected growth to moderate going into 2011, the [Q1 declines] turned out to be a dampener of sorts," said Rohit Mehra, IDC's director of enterprise communications infrastructure. "This was a tough quarter for most of the major vendors, either sequentially or on a year-over-year basis. IDC believes that Q1 was a quarter with the market taking a pause after the strong growth from previous quarters."
One segment of the switching space in fine fettle so far this year is 10 gigabit Ethernet (10GbE). Port shipments stood at 1.35 million during Q1, with revenue up 15.9 per cent on 2010 levels.
The routing market was also in good shape during Q1, with sales up 6.9 per cent annually, despite an 11.9 per cent seasonal quarter-on-quarter contraction.
Cindy Borovick, vice president of enterprise communications infrastructure and datacentre networks at IDC, said: "Given the consolidation phase the broader Ethernet switch market is in, there are signs that some segments are continuing to show at least some strength, and that is encouraging."
Cisco's stranglehold on the network market loosened a tiny bit during 2011's opening three months, with its market share slipping 1.55 points sequentially to 64.15 per cent. The vendor remains dominant in the market's upper echelons, snaffling a 73.8 per cent slice of the 10GbE market during Q1.
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