Samsung Surpassed Apple as the Top Global Semiconductor Customer in 2012, According to Gartner

Samsung and Apple Together Consumed 15 Percent of Total Semiconductor Demand in 2012

GARTNER125Samsung Electronics and Apple both dominated semiconductor demand in 2012, although Samsung overtook Apple as the top worldwide semiconductor customer, according to Gartner, Inc. 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, to represent 15 percent of total semiconductor demand, while the total semiconductor market decreased by 3 percent overall.

“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.”

The top 10 companies demanded $106.4 billion of semiconductors in 2012, to account for 36 percent of total semiconductor vendors’ worldwide revenue of $297.6 billion (see Table 1). Of the top 10 companies, Nokia’s semiconductor demand contracted most.

Table 1

Top 10 Semiconductor Design TAM by Company, Worldwide 2012, Preliminary (Billions of Dollars)








2011-2012 Growth (%)

Share (%)

2 1 Samsung Electronics 18.6 23.9 28.9 8.0
1 2 Apple 18.8 21.4 13.6 7.2
3 3 HP 16.0 14.0 -12.7 4.7
4 4 Dell 9.9 8.6 -13.4 2.9
8 5 Sony 7.7 7.9 1.9 2.7
7 6 Lenovo 7.8 7.8 0.3 2.6
6 7 Toshiba 7.8 6.5 -17.1 2.2
9 8 LG Electronics 6.5 6.0 -6.7 2.0
11 9 Cisco 5.4 5.4 -0.8 1.8
5 10 Nokia 8.6 5.0 -42.6 1.7
Others 199.7 191.1 -4.3 64.2
    Total 306.8 297.6 -3.0 100.0

TAM = total available market
Source: Gartner (January 2013)

“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,” said Mr. Yamaji.

“Price competition between smartphone and media tablet vendors was severe in 2012, as hardware differentiation was very difficult to achieve,” said Mr. Yamaji. “Innovations in device hardware will soon be copied by competitors, as semiconductor vendors will soon provide commercial SoC (system-on-chip), software and reference designs to hardware vendors needing to catch up with innovative market leaders. Semiconductor vendors must aid, or at least monitor, the hardware innovations of the market leaders.”

Design TAM represents the total silicon content in all products designed by a certain electronic equipment manufacturer or in a certain region. Design TAM is a useful index for semiconductor vendors when they are considering how to allocate their sales or field application engineer resources by customer or region.

More detailed analysis is available in the report “Market Insight: Semiconductor Demand From OEMs, ODMs and EMS Companies, Worldwide, 2012 (Preliminary).” The report is available on Gartner’s website at


Rob van der Meulen
Janessa Rivera

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. Gartner delivers the technology-related insight necessary for its clients to make the right decisions, every day. From CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, to business leaders in high-tech and telecom enterprises and professional services firms, to technology investors, Gartner is the valuable partner to clients in 12,000 distinct organizations. Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Executive Programs, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, Gartner works with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role. Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A., and has 5,000 associates, including 1,280 research analysts and consultants, and clients in 85 countries. For more information,

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