Even though demand for semiconductors fell in $297.6 billion in 2012, that still represents a lot of chips. The drop in demand is almost entirely due to higher consumer demand for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets than for notebook and desktop PCs, which use substantially more semiconductors than the much smaller mobile devices.
And there was even a change at the top. The manufacturer that consumed the most chips was Samsung Electronics with $23.9 billion worth of chip consumption. Displaced as number 1, but finishing in second place is Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), with $21.4 billion. Samsung’s total rose by 28.9% year-over-year, and Apple’s rose by 13.6%.
In third and fourth places were Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) at $14 billion and Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) at $8.6 billion. Number five was Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) with $7.7 billion. Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) round out the top ten with $5.4 billion and $5 billion, respectively. The top ten consuming companies accounted for about one-third of total semiconductor purchases in 2012 and 64% of the market for chips.
Compared with 2011 consumption, Nokia contracted the most — down 42.6%. HP’s consumption total fell by 12.7% and Dell’s dropped by 13.4%.
The data comes from Gartner Inc. (NYSE: IT). The principal analyst said:
While the growth of new mobile computing devices, notably smartphones and media tablets, has not fully compensated for the drop in the semiconductor demand from the PC market, the data center and communications infrastructure market will keep driving semiconductor demand. The limited computing and storage resources of new mobile computing devices will be compensated for by cloud computing services with light application software.
Just more evidence that mobile computing is where things are happening today.