Sun is being battered in the worldwide server market by IBM, new figures from IDC show, due to its over-reliance on Unix servers instead of going for high-growth Linux and Intel-based servers.

In the overall market, IBM is now top dog with 30.4 percent, bringing in $3.2 billion - up 10.1 percent. Second comes HP (27 percent with $2.9 billion, up just 0.4 percent). But last and looking miserable comes Sun with $1.4 billion revenue (13 percent) - a fall of 18.7 percent. Dell comes fourth (9 percent, $980 million, up 10 percent).

These figures back up an identical study on the European server market released yesterday by Gartner. That gave HP the lead with 39.2 percent of the market and a 21 percent growth rate, but IBM grew the most with sales up 41 percent and a market share of 16.9 percent. Sun again though was the only vendor not to see sales increase. In fact, they slipped 18.4 percent according to Gartner.

While constant fluctuations over the year in server sales may make observers sceptical of Sun's apparent fall from grace, it is down on the second quarter of last year's sales while others are up. And if proof were needed that Sun itself is worried, the last week has seen the company pushing its x86 servers, based on Intel architecture, like never before.

In India, it has stuck a huge 25 to 28 percent discount on its V60x and V65x servers. "We are eyeing the growth opportunities in the 32-bit, x86 server market and are planning to improve our focus on small and medium enterprises," said a Sun director, which translated means: "We are trying to steal the Asian market for Intel servers to make up for our short-sightedness in Europe and the US."

At the same time it certified an extra 100 hardware platforms to run its Solaris 9 OS. Plus 100 new components were put on its hardware compatibility list. And it has introduced a self-certification programme for all types of vendors for its x86 products. Sun is worried. It still heads the Unix server market, traditionally the largest segment, but that market is shrinking (by 5.2 per cent) and Intel-based servers are now the biggest slice - up 10.7 percent, according to IDC. Sun is trying hard but is lagging. Compounding this, Linux servers have rocketed 40 percent and Sun is nowhere to be seen.

The Sun ain't shining.