Apple became the world's largest buyer of semiconductors in 2010, buoyed by strong sales of the iPad and other mobile devices, according to a new report.
Apple, with its popular iPhones
and iPads, became the world's largest buyer of semiconductors in 2010,
according to new research from IHS iSuppli.
In the course of claiming that spot, Apple spent $17.5
billion on semiconductors over the course of the year, an increase of 79.6
percent from 2009. That allowed the company to surpass other OEMs, including Samsung and Hewlett-Packard, both
of which had ranked ahead of Apple in 2009.
"Apple's surge to leadership in semiconductor spending in
2010 was driven by the overwhelming success of its wireless products, namely
the iPhone and the iPad," Wenlie Ye, an IHS iSuppli analyst, wrote in a June 8
statement. "These products consume enormous quantities of NAND flash memory,
which is also found in the Apple iPod. Because of this, Apple in 2010 was the
world's No. 1 purchaser of NAND flash."
The firm believes that demand for Apple's mobile products
will help the company expand its lead over Samsung and other competitors in
coming years. In contrast to a company such as HP,
which spent heavily on semiconductor products for desktops and servers, Apple's
semiconductor spend was concentrated largely in the mobile arena.
"This worked to Apple's benefit, with the smartphone and
tablet markets massively outgrowing the computer segment in 2010," read IHS
iSuppli's June 8 research note. "Smartphone shipments in 2010 rose 62 percent,
while tablets exploded by more than 900 percent, driven by the introduction of
A recent research note from JP Morgan suggested that
Samsung, Motorola and other manufacturers are reducing build plans for their
respective tablets, following a lukewarm reception by consumers and businesses.
"Non-Apple tablet hopefuls have adjusted to the weak showing
so far," JP Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz wrote, according to the International
. "In our view, the technical and form factor improvements of
the iPad 2 stand to make it tougher for the first generation of competitive
offerings to play catch-up, meaning actual shipments could fall well short of
Apple sold 4.7 million iPads in its fiscal 2011 second
quarter, which saw the release of the iPad 2. That sales surge comes just as
IHS iSuppli pegged PC sales as falling 0.3 percent during the first quarter of
the year. "The increasing momentum of the media-tablet market, led by the iPad,
is creating a difficult environment for the PC industry," Matthew Wilkins, an
analyst with the firm, wrote in a May 24 statement. "IHS believes that the jury
is still out on exactly how much tablets are cannibalizing PC sales. However,
the rising number of tablet models on the market, along with certain
high-profile product launches during the first quarter, caused confusion among
consumers as to exactly how to view the tablet platform relative to the PC
That confusion, he added, "contributed to the PC sales
decline in the first quarter." Whether the iPad is having a dampening
effect on PC sales, though, it seems that its popularity is helping Apple's
rank among semiconductor purchasers.