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Apple Becomes Top Semiconductor Customer in 2011

Apple Inc. became the top customer for semiconductors in 2011, accounting for $17.2 billion, or 5.7 percent of the design total available market (TAM), according to researcher Gartner Inc.

Apple and nine other leading electronic OEMs accounted for $105.6 billion, 35 percent of the semiconductor design TAM in 2011, Gartner reported.

Design TAM is the total semiconductor content in all products designed by a certain electronic equipment manufacturer. Purchasing TAM is the total semiconductor content purchased directly by a certain electronic equipment manufacturer. Purchasing TAM includes electronics manufacturing services (EMS) providers and OEMs.

Three of the top 10 companies in purchasing TAM in 2011 were EMS providers. In fact, EMS provider Foxconn was the leader in purchasing TAM, buying $18.6 billion of semiconductors in 2011. Foxconn builds many of Apple's products.

Design TAM is a useful index for semiconductor suppliers in deciding how to allocate their sales or field application engineer resources by customer or region, Gartner reported. Purchasing TAM is a useful to chip makers when they are considering how to establish an efficient distribution network by customer or region.

More brand-name OEMs are increasing their production outsourcing to original design manufacturers (ODMs) and electronics manufacturing services (EMS) providers. As a result, more semiconductor procurement is being done by EMS providers and original design manufacturers, according to Gartner.

The major growth drivers for semiconductors in 2011 were smart phones and media tablets and solid-state drives (SSDs), said Masatsune Yamaji, principal research analyst at Gartner.

"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,” Yamaji noted.

Apple gained a much greater share of the smartphone market, and its media tablet business was also highly successful in 2011.

Samsung was the second largest customer for semiconductors on a design TAM basis, accounting for $16.6 billion of semiconductors. Hewlett-Packard was third with $16.6 billion.

Within the top 10 rankings, three companies were from the Americas, three from Asia/Pacific, three from Japan and one from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).

Top 10 Semiconductor Design TAM by Company,
(Worldwide 2011, Preliminary (Millions of Dollars)

Company 2010 2011 Growth (%) Share(%)
3 1 Apple 12,819 17,257 34.6 5.7
2 2 Samsung Electronics 15,272 16,681 9.2 5.5
1 3 HP 17,585 16,618 -5.5 5.5
5 4 Dell 10,497 9,792 -6.7 3.2
4 5 Nokia* 11,318 9,042 -20.1 3.0
6 6 Sony* 9,020 8,210 -9.0 2.7
7 7 Toshiba 7,768 7,589 -2.3 2.5
10 8 Lenovo 6,091 7,537 23.7 2.5
8 9 LG Electronics 6,738 6,645 -1.4 2.2
9 10 Panasonic 6,704 6,267 -6.5 2.1
    Others 195,552 196,413 0.4 65.0
    Total 299,364 302,051 0.9 100.0

TAM = total available market
Source: Gartner