Wednesday, 10 February 2021 07:23

Apple top buyer of semiconductor chips in 2020, Gartner figures show

Apple top buyer of semiconductor chips in 2020, Gartner figures show Pixabay

Apple was the leading buyer of semiconductor chips in 2020, being responsible for 11.9% of the global market, the technology analyst firm Gartner says, adding that these figures are preliminary.

The top 10 buyers remained the same as in 2019, but increased their expenditure by 10% and accounted for 42% of the market, up from 40% in 2019, the firm said.

Revenue figures for the semiconductor market, issued by another technology analyst firm, IDC recently, showed spending grew by 5.4% in 2020 the pandemic notwithstanding, with US$442 billion (A$581 billion) spent, a better than expected showing. The DRAM and NAND markets also recovered after a poor 2019, growing 4% and 32.9% respectively.

“Two major factors impacted the top OEMs’ semiconductor spending in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and the political conflict between the US and China,” said Masatsune Yamaji, research director at Gartner.

“The pandemic weakened the demand for 5G smartphones and disrupted vehicle production, but drove the demand for mobile PCs and video games, as well as the investment in cloud data centres through 2020. Furthermore, a rise in memory prices in 2020 resulted in increased OEM chip spending through the year.”

Huawei's spending on semiconductors fell significantly in 2020, due to the American sanctions on the Chinese company.

semi 2020 gartner

“The US Government increased trade restrictions on Huawei in 2020, limiting its ability to purchase semiconductors, which, in turn, limited its smartphone supply and reduced its market share," said Yamaji.

"However, the Chinese market remains important for semiconductor vendors, as other Chinese smartphone OEMs stepped in to fill the vacuum created by Huawei in the second half of 2020.”

Gartner said Apple kept its its position due to continued success of its AirPods, special demand for Macs and iPads, and increasing NAND flash consumption. “Increasing demand for mobile PCs and tablets due to working from home significantly drove the production of Macs and iPads through 2020,” said Yamaji. “The company also began its transition to Apple silicon for its Mac product line in the second half of 2020.”

Samsung stayed in second position and increased its spending by 20.4% in 2020, due to weakened competition from Huawei and the strong demand for enterprise SSD for data centres. The company benefitted from trends such as working from home and e-learning.

Among the top 10, Xiaomi increased its spending the most (26%) in 2020. “Xiaomi’s smartphone business was minimally impacted due to its primarily online-channel-driven sales model throughout the pandemic," said Yamaji

"Sanctions on Huawei enabled Xiaomi to gain more market share in the smartphone market. Xiaomi’s strong success in a wide variety of consumer IoT devices, including smart TVs, wearables and smart home appliances, also increased its semiconductor spending in 2020.”

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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