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Top smartphone firms also top semicon customers last year

Veronica C. Silva | Jan. 30, 2012
Apple tops list of semiconductor industry clients.

Apple is not the only company that is happy that their recent quarterly figures are up. Semiconductor firms also share in the good news. Gartner figures reveal that some top electronics manufacturers are some of the semiconductor industry's top clients.

Gartner said original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) were the top customers of the semiconductor industry in 2011, accounting for US$105.6 billion of semiconductors on a design total available market (TAM) basis. The 2011 total represents a year-on-year increase of $1.8 billion, or an increase of 1.8 percent from 2010, and represents 35 percent of semiconductor vendors' worldwide chip revenue, Gartner added.

In measuring silicon manufacturing and distribution, Gartner differentiates two types of TAM - digital and purchasing TAM. Digital TAM indicates the "total silicon content in all products designed by a certain electronic equipment manufacturer or in a certain region." Purchasing TAM represents the "total silicon content purchased directly by a certain electronic equipment manufacturer or in a certain region."

Gartner said design TAM is an index used by the semiconductor industry to plan for allocating sales or field application engineers per customer or region. Purchasing TAM, on the other hand, is used by the industry to measure how to efficiently distribute their products by customer or region.

Growth drivers  

Based on these indices, Gartner noted that smartphones, media tablets and solid-state drives (SSDs) helped boost demand for semiconductors last year.

"Those companies that gained share in the smartphone market, such as Apple, Samsung Electronics and HTC, increased their semiconductor demand, while those who lost market share in this segment, such as Nokia and LG Electronics, decreased their semiconductor demand. Media tablets were also a growth driver for the semiconductor market throughout 2011," said Masatsune Yamaji, principal research analyst, Gartner.

Apple recently reported that for the quarter ending 31 December 2011, profits and revenues were up, thanks to the iPhones, iPads and Macs. 

Gartner said Apple was the biggest customer of semiconductor chip vendors last year, climbing two places in the ranking based on design TAM.

"Apple gained a much greater share of the smartphone market, and its media tablet business was also highly successful in 2011," added a Gartner statement.

The MacBook Air also helped Apple increase the semiconductor chip demand even in its personal computer business, noted Gartner.

Based on preliminary worldwide data, Samsung Electronics retained its number two rank while HP slipped to number three. The other top electronics companies by design TAM include Dell (rank four), Nokia (five), Sony (six), Toshiba (seven), Lenovo (eight), LG (nine) and Panasonic (10).


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