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Samsung zooms past Apple in semiconductor buying in 2012

In the race for worldwide mobile supremacy, Apple(s AAPL) has fallen behind on another metric: spending on semiconductors. That’s according to data published Wednesday by researchers at Gartner, which found that Apple’s spending on silicon rose from $18.8 billion in 2011 to $21.4 billion in 2012. However, that was surpassed by Samsung’s burst of spending, which rose from $18.6 billion in 2011 to $23.9 billion last year. The data further illustrates that the two are by far the leaders in mobile devices.

What Gartner’s calculations found mean that Apple is no longer the world’s biggest spender on semiconductors. However, lower spending doesn’t necessarily mean Apple is buying fewer chips. It could be that Apple is getting better deals on them, or it could have to do with the type of chips it is buying versus what Samsung is. Here’s how the two rank among the rest of the world’s biggest spenders on semiconductors:

Gartner chip spending 2012

Because they are pricier, PC chips are still providing the bulk of the demand for semiconductors, according to Gartner. But as that market continues to shrink, it led to an overall down year for chip purchases. Demand for chips actually shrank 3 percent in 2012, but was helped out by Samsung and Apple’s seemingly insatiable appetite for semiconductors. Together the two accounted for 15 percent of semiconductor spending as they duke it out over the future of consumer mobile devices.

3 Responses to “Samsung zooms past Apple in semiconductor buying in 2012”

  1. Laughing_Boy48

    I’m curious to find out the cost of those quad-core NVidia Tegra 4 processors. I’m certain all of Samsung’s 2013 high-end smartphones will have them. They certainly can’t be cheap to produce. Samsung can put all their money into fast processors and big displays and cut corners on the rest of the build. Most consumers probably won’t even care about anything else and Samsung is betting heavily on that fact to lower the cost of the Galaxy S4. Samsung is using a pretty good tactic to gain market share over Apple. There’s not much Apple can do about it, either. I doubt Apple is going to start selling multiple models of new iPhones at lower price points but Apple may decide to change its tactics, too. It can certainly afford to do anything it needs to do with so much ample reserve cash sitting around unused.

  2. Matt Eagar

    I doubt Samsung is getting worse deals on chips than Apple. Rather, the fact that Apple is even close to Samsung in this spend is surprising, given that Samsung plays in so many more markets than mobile and personal computing (TVs, set-top boxes, Blu-Rays, etc). As interesting as the rise of Apple, though, the fall of other companies — HP, Dell, Toshiba, LG, Nokia — is just as telling.