Few things show the turning of the technological tide more than Gartner’s global semiconductor report, released today. Together, mobile device giants Samsung and Apple bought 15.2 percent of CPUs and other chips sold in 2012.
Both grew spectacularly, with Samsung up 28.9 percent, and Apple up 13.6 percent, while HP and Dell dropped 12.7 and 13.4 percent, respectively. Samsung’s purchases topped out at $23.9 billion, and Apple bought $21.4 billion worth of chips for phones, tablets, and other devices.
“Although Samsung and Apple continue to go from strength to strength, other leading electronic equipment makers fared less well,” Gartner research analyst Masatsune Yamaji said in a statement, adding that six of the previous top 10 reduced their demand in 2012. That top 10, who together consume $106.4 billion of the total $297.6 billion semiconductor market, includes Toshiba, LG, Cisco, and Nokia.
Speaking of which, Nokia was spectacular as well — if you count flameouts. The fading Finnish phone company dropped its purchase of semiconductors by a staggering 42.6 percent, representing $3.6 billion in chips. Overall, the market was down 3 percent, Gartner said.
But not only is the guard changing, the product mix is changing.
“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,” Yamaji added.
That has implications for overall profitability, as chips that go in phone and tablets cost lest than the latest and greatest chips for desktops and laptops.