KOREAN ELECTRONICS GIANT Samsung overtook Apple in 2012 to become the largest user of semiconductor chips.
Apple, thanks in large part to its hugely popular iPhone and iPad products, was the largest consumer of semiconductor chips - that is, until 2012. Gartner claims that Samsung has overtaken Apple to become the largest semiconductor user with eight percent of all chips sold going to the firm.
Samsung, which has enjoyed notable success with its headline Galaxy range of products, became the biggest smartphone vendor in 2012, a title it wrestled away from Nokia. As for Nokia, Gartner's figures place the firm at number 10 in its chip usage leaderboard with a 1.7 percent share of total consumption.
Gartner said Samsung placed $23.9bn worth of chip orders in 2012, while Apple ordered $21.4bn putting it in second place on the industry analyst outfit's list. PC makers HP and Dell saw their shares of the overall semiconductor sales pie shrink, placing the two companies third and fourth, respectively.
Masatsune Yamaji, principal research analyst at Gartner said, "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."
Interestingly, Gartner said the drop in PC sales is not being offset by the increase in sales of smartphones and tablets. However the firm said demand in networking and datacenter equipment will drive demand in chips, with the firm citing Cisco jumping two places on its list to ninth with a 1.8 percent share of the total semiconductor consumption market.
With Apple and Samsung expected to be strong in the smartphone and tablet markets in 2013, it is unlikely that HP and Dell will be able to challenge them for the top spots on Gartner's list. All of this means that PC makers' buying clout is decreasing just when it is most needed, with the two consumer electronics giants being able to wield more purchasing power and hedge processor and memory prices. µ