While Apple remains the top brand for the premium smartphone market, Samsung has managed to top global market share for the entire smartphone market with its large selection of differently-priced devices. These facts map almost directly to the semiconductor market, where Samsung and Apple are by far the largest buyers of semiconductors in the world.
Market research firm Gartner this week released a report showing that Samsung and Apple purchased a combined $53.7 billion worth of semiconductors during 2013. This represents a 6% increase over these companies' semiconductor orders from last year and means Samsung and Apple represented a full 17% of all the semiconductor purchases during the previous year. Samsung alone spent more than $30 million on semiconductors last year.
Samsung's and Apple's orders in 2013 were followed by the largest traditional PC manufacturers, HP and Lenovo. HP spent a bit more than half of what Apple did on semiconductors last year, while Lenovo spent less than $10 million and and was just ahead of Dell's semiconductor spending.
For the overall semiconductor market, the shift in industry focus to smartphones and tablets has meant a decline in worldwide semiconductor purchases. According to Gartner, sales from the top 10 companies topped $114 in 2013. This is up from just over $105 billion worth of semiconductors sold in 2012, but revenue growth from the top 10 customers far exceeded that from the rest of the market, which accounted for around 64% of semiconductor sales last year.
"In 2013, total semiconductor demand from the smartphone and media tablet markets surpassed demand in the PC market," said Masatsune Yamaji, principal research analyst at Gartner. "However, this consumer shift has caused a substantial decrease in total semiconductor demand over the last two years because there is far less semiconductor content in a smartphone and a media tablet than there is in a PC. In addition, in the total smartphone and media tablet markets, the growth rate for utility/basic models is far higher than for premium models. To keep growing, semiconductor vendors need to gain opportunities by accelerating the device commoditisation with their intellectual properties and patent portfolio."