Samsung Retakes Title of World's Largest Semiconductor Customer from Apple in 2012
Research firm Gartner today shared its estimates of global semiconductor purchases for 2012, finding that Samsung has retaken the title Apple had gained in 2011 when it leapt over both Samsung and HP. Samsung (28.9% growth) and Apple (13.6% growth) registered as the biggest winners in 2012, as the overall market declined by 3% with Sony (1.9%) and Lenovo (0.3%) being the only other top-ten companies showing positive performance.
"Although Samsung and Apple continue to go from strength to strength, other leading electronic equipment makers fared less well, and six of the top 10 reduced their demand in 2012," said Masatsune Yamaji, principal research analyst at Gartner. "In addition to a weak macroeconomic situation, a dramatic change in consumer demand contributed to a reduction in semiconductor demand in 2012.
Yamaji pointed to the strong shift to mobile devices as a primary reason for the overall decline in the semiconductor market, with traditional computers that require significantly higher semiconductor content experiencing relatively poor sales in the face of smartphone and tablet popularity.
Top Ten 2012 Semiconductor Customers (Billions of Dollars)
Samsung and Apple together now account for over 15% of the world's semiconductor market, up from roughly 12% in 2011.
Gartner's numbers measure the total silicon content of all products designed by Apple and each of its competitors, a metric known as Design TAM. This is distinct from Purchasing TAM, which would attribute to a given company only the amount actually purchased by the company. As an example of the difference between the two metrics, semiconductors purchased by a third-party manufacturing partner would generally count toward the primary company's Design TAM but not its Purchasing TAM.