Mobile Devices Drive Semiconductor Market Growth: IDC

While explosive growth among mobile devices will help power the industry, worldwide economic uncertainty could put a cap on growth.

Continued global macroeconomic uncertainty from a slowdown in China, the eurozone debt crisis and recession, Japan’s recession and the U.S. sequester's impact on corporate IT spending are factors that could affect global semiconductor demand this year, though semiconductor revenue worldwide is expected to see improved growth this year of 6.9 percent and reach $320 billion, according to research firm IDC’s Semiconductor Applications Forecaster (SAF).

Semiconductor revenue for the computing industry segment will log year-over-year growth of 2 percent for 2013 and will show a slow compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of only 0.9 percent for the 2012-2017 forecast period. The SAF also forecast semiconductor revenues will grow 2.9 percent year over year in 2014 to $329 billion and log a CAGR of 4.2 percent from 2012-2017, reaching $366 billion in 2017.

Semiconductor revenue from mobile PC demand will register year-over-year growth of -0.6 percent in 2013, only returning to positive growth in 2015. Meanwhile, revenue for the mobile wireless communications segment is projected to grow 10.3 percent year over year in 2013 with a CAGR of 5.2 percent for 2012-2017, while revenue for 4G phones will experience an annual growth rate of 121.8 percent in 2013 and a CAGR of 37.9 percent for 2012-2017.

"Semiconductors for smartphones will see healthy revenue growth as demand for increased speeds and additional features continue to drive high-end smartphone demand in developed countries and low-cost smartphones in developing countries,” Nina Turner, research manager for semiconductors at IDC, said in a statement. Lower-cost smartphones in developing countries will make up an increasing portion of the mix and moderate future mobile wireless communication semiconductor growth. PC semiconductor demand will remain weak for 2013 as the market continues to be affected by the worldwide macroeconomic environment and the encroachment of tablets."

Regionally, Japan is projected to be the weakest region for 2013, but the SAF report forecasts an improvement over the contraction in 2012. Growth rates in all regions will improve for 2013 over 2012, as demand for smartphones and tablets remain strong and automotive electronics and semiconductors for the industrial market segment improve in 2013. Media tablets, e-readers, Blu-ray DVD players and set-top boxes will continue to drive above-average semiconductor revenue growth.

"Communications infrastructure across enterprise, data centers and service provider networks will experience a significant upgrade over the next five years to support the enormous growth in the amount of data and information that must be managed more efficiently, intelligently and securely,” Abhi Dugar, research manager for semiconductors, embedded system solutions and associated software in the cloud, said in a statement. “This growth is being driven by continued adoption of rich-media-capable mobile devices, movement of increasingly virtualized server workloads within and between data centers and the emergence of new networking paradigms such as software-defined networking (SDN) to support the new requirements."