Apple was the World’s Top Semiconductor Customer Last Year

A report from research firm Gartner was released today, which calculates and summarizes the number of semiconductors purchased last year, by measuring the total silicon content in all products designed by Apple and its competitors.

According to the report, Apple was the world’s largest semiconductor buyer in 2011.

This confirms an IHS iSuppli report that came out in August of 2011, and started that Apple had become the largest purchaser of semiconductors as early as 2010, outbuying both Samsung and HP with $17.5 billion spent.

As demand for Apple products increased, Apple’s semiconductor spending has grown even more, giving the company even more of a purchasing lead, as a buyer and a consumer. Apple’s iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Macbook Air all have NAND flash memory, which is the main component in the semiconductor market thanks to the popularity of mobile devices.

Gartner’s report shows Apple’s 2010 to 2011 growth at 34.6 percent, clearly out-performing the growth of other semiconductor buyers, once again snagging the top spot from prime competitors HP and Samsung.

Masatsune Yamaji, principal research analyst at Gartner, confirms that mobile devices and the solid-state drives are what’s causing the growth in the semiconductor market.

“The major growth drivers in 2011 were smartphones, media tablets, and solid-state drives (SSDs). Those companies that gained share in the smartphone market, such as Apple, Samsung Electronics, and HTC, increased their semiconductor demand, while those who lost market share in this segment, such as Nokia and LG Electronics, decreased their semiconductor demand.

Apple gained a much greater share of the smartphone market, and its media tablet business was also highly successful in 2011. While DRAM prices fell drastically in 2011, and many PC vendors decreased their total semiconductor demand accordingly, the success of the MacBook Air enabled Apple to increase semiconductor chip demand even in its PC business.”

Overall, the top 10 leading electronic vendors purchased $105.6 billion in semiconductors during the year, accounting for 35 percent of semiconductor vendors’ total chip revenue in 2011. With the iPad 3, the iPhone 5, and a Macbook Air refresh on the horizon, Apple’s not likely to lose that top spot anytime soon.

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