Samsung overtook Apple as the top worldwide semiconductor customer in 2012, even though both the companies dominated semiconductor demand during the year.

Based on analysis of the design total available market (TAM), Samsung and Apple together consumed $45.3 billion of semiconductors in 2012, an increase of $7.9 billion from 2011. This represents 15 per cent of total demand, while the total market fell by 3 per cent overall, according to a Gartner report. Design TAM represents the total silicon content in all products designed by a certain electronic equipment manufacturer or in a certain region. It is an index for semiconductor vendors to use when they are considering how to allocate their sales or field application engineer resources by customer or region.

"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. The PC market still represented the largest sector for chip demand, but desktop and mobile PCs did not sell well, as consumers' interest shifted to new mobile computing devices like smartphones and media tablets. This caused a big decrease in demand in 2012, as the semiconductor content of a smartphone or a media tablet is far less than that of a PC,” Yamaji said. The top 10 companies demanded $106.4 billion of semiconductors in 2012, to account for 36 per cent of total semiconductor vendors' worldwide revenue of $297.6 billion). Of the top 10 firms, Nokia's semiconductor demand contracted most.

(This article was published on January 23, 2013)
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