Apple Worldwide Leader of Semiconductor Purchases in 2011

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Circuit Board Semiconductor Circuit board image via Shutterstock.

Apple was the largest purchaser of semiconductors in 2011, according to a report released Tuesday by research firm Gartner.

As compared by MacRumors, today’s report conflicts with a previous report by IHS iSuppli in June 2011, which found  Apple to have taken the number one spot in 2010. The discrepancy is a result of a different methodology in the way semiconductor expenditures are calculated. The Gartner report uses Design Total Available Market (Design TAM), as compared to Purchasing TAM, used by iSuppli.

“Design TAM represents the total silicon content in all products designed by a certain electronic equipment manufacturer or in a certain region, while purchasing TAM represents the total silicon content purchased directly by a certain electronic equipment manufacturer or in a certain region. Design TAM is a useful index for semiconductor vendors when they are considering how to allocate their sales or field application engineer resources by customer or region. Purchasing TAM is a useful index for semiconductor vendors when they are considering how to establish an efficient distribution network by customer or region,” the report’s Press Release states.

Regardless of methodology, both firms now declare Apple to be the top semiconductor purchaser for 2011, with year-over-year growth of 34.6 percent, well above its competitors. With $17.26 billion in purchases, Apple beats out both Samsung ($16.68 billion) and HP ($16.62 billion) to round out 2011.

2011 Gartner Semiconductor Results

The numbers correlate with an increase in the market’s focus away from traditional computers to solid state drives, mobile devices and tablets. “The major growth drivers in 2011 were smartphones, 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. Media tablets were also a growth driver for the semiconductor market throughout 2011.”

With Apple showing no signs of slowing its mobile device shipments, and record results expected during today’s quarterly results call, it is likely that Apple will remain in the top spot for the foreseeable future.

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