Samsung overtakes Apple as top semiconductor buyer in 2012

By on January 23, 2013, 4:30 PM

Samsung has vaulted past Apple to become the world’s biggest buyer of semiconductors, according to new data from Gartner. The two were virtually tied for semiconductor purchases in 2011, but last year the scale tipped slightly to the South Korean firm’s side, which bought 8% of the world’s semiconductors to the tune of $23.9 billion, while Apple’s spending on semiconductors rose to $21.4 billion for a 7.2% share.

Overall semiconductor market sales decreased by 3%, however, and outside of the two post-PC heavyweights six of the top ten chip buyers actually cut spending due to a slowdown in traditional computer sales.

HP came in as the third largest spender at $14 billion, which was almost 13% lower than the previous year, while fourth-placed Dell cut spending by a similar proportion to $8.6 billion. Sony rose to fifth in the rankings after boosting spending 1.9 percent to $7.9 billion, followed by Lenovo in sixth up by a slight 0.3% to $7.2 billion and Toshiba which reduced semiconductor purchases in 2012 by 17% to $6.5 billion.

Gartner notes “a dramatic change” in consumer demand was contributed significantly to the shift in semiconductor buying. Despite this the PC market still represented the largest sector for chip demand, Gartner notes. But the slowdown caused a substantial decrease in semiconductor demand in 2012, as the semiconductor content of a smartphone or a media tablet is far less than that of a PC.

Top 10 semiconductor design TAM by company, worldwide 2012, preliminary (billions of dollars)

Rank 2011 Rank 2012 Company 2011 2012 Growth (%) Share (%)
2 1 Samsung Electronics 18.6 23.9 28.9 8.0
1 2 Apple 18.8 21.4 13.6 7.2
3 3 HP 16.0 14.0 -12.7 4.7
4 4 Dell 9.9 8.6 -13.4 2.9
5 5 Sony 7.7 7.9 1.9 2.7
7 6 Lenovo 7.8 7.8 0.3 2.6
6 7 Toshiba 7.8 6.5 -17.1 2.2
9 8 LG Electronics 6.5 6.0 -6.7 2.0
11 9 Cisco 5.4 5.4 -0.8 1.8
5 10 Nokia 8.6 5.0 -42.6 1.7
    Others 199.7 191.1 -4.3 64.2
    Total 306.8 297.6 -3.0 100.0

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