It's no secret that Samsung is quickly catching up to Apple in the mobile market. While Apple painstakingly designs each of their devices and sells millions of each, Samsung has taken a more experimental approach, releasing a myriad of mobile devices of every size and type.
Samsung's strategy is strikingly reflected in the number of semiconductors bought by the Korean manufacturer. According to research firm Gartner, Samsung surpassed Apple last year to become the largest customer of semiconductors in the world. While Apple and Samsung were nearly tied for semiconductor purchases in 2011, Samsung last year bought a full 8% of the world's semiconductors - $23.9 billion worth. Apple last year bought $21.4 billion worth for a 7.2% share of the world's purchases.
"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 shift caused a substantial decrease in semiconductor demand in 2012, as the semiconductor content of a smartphone or a media tablet is far less than that of a PC."
Overall there was a 3% drop in sales for semiconductors in 2012. Companies such as HP, Dell, and Toshiba saw their orders for semiconductors drop by billions of dollars. Sony managed to increase its orders by 1.9% and Lenovo increased its orders slightly.