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:
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.