With the news that the dynamic random access memory market is heating up to unprecedented demand in 2011, it's logical that the sales leader in this segment is licking its chops at more potential profits.
Solid-state market analyst IHS iSuppli reported Feb. 16 that South Korea's Samsung Electronics continued to increase its already commanding percentage of sales in the DRAM market in Q4 2010.
Overall DRAM revenue for Samsung in Q4 2010 totaled $3.6 billion, which works out to a whopping 41.7 percent share of the $8.7 billion market, IHS iSuppli said.
Most of this upsurge, of course, is due to brisk sales of Apple iOS and Android-powered tablet PCs and smartphones.
Even though Samsung's market share rose a full percentage point in Q4, and despite the overall fast growth of the DRAM-producing business, the manufacturer's net revenue was down a bit-along with the global DRAM market, which brought in lower revenue than in the previous quarter, iSuppli said.
In Q3 2010, world DRAM market revenue totaled $10.7 billion, a full $2 billion more than in Q4 2010, iSuppli said.
The reason for this wasn't unit sales volume; it was price fluctuation. Due to more intense competition among the world's seven major manufacturers, ASPs (average selling prices) for DRAMs fell nearly 30 percent in the final quarter of 2010, research shows.
"Samsung succeeded in picking up more business, thanks to an astute playbook, marked by a diverse product portfolio that hedged against excessive ASP declines, as well as an aggressive budget for capital expenditures that made sure the company's shipments kept pace with the competition," said Mike Howard, principal analyst for DRAM and memory at IHS iSuppli.
No. 2 in market share is Hynix Semiconductor, also of South Korea, which has held steady with about 22 percent share for eight consecutive quarters. No. 3 is Elpida Memory of Japan, which suffered the biggest drop in revenue in the fourth quarter; it was down 35 percent, to $1.1 billion and a 13 percent share.
No. 4 is Micron Technology, whose revenue dipped only 3 percent for the period. The Idaho-based company finally began to see significant shipments being counted from its purchase of a stake in Taiwan's Inotera Memories a few years ago. Micron's market share went up to 12.5 percent in the fourth quarter from 10.5 percent in Q3 2010.