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Samsung passes Apple as top global semiconductor buyer, Gartner says

Samsung last year overtook Apple as the world's top purchaser of semiconductors, according to new figures out Wednesday from industry analyst Gartner.

The two tech giants together account for more than 15 percent of all semiconductors bought last year, more than the next five buyers combined. Gartner's figures are based on analysis of the design total available market (TAM) — the total silicon content in all products designed by a certain manufacturer — and show Apple and Samsung together consuming $45.3 billion in semiconductors in 2012, up $7.9 billion from 2011.


Samsung's semiconductor consumption is said to have grown 28.9 percent year-over-year, giving the South Korean firm an eight percent overall share of semiconductor buys and moving it past Apple for the year. Apple, meanwhile, saw its semiconductor purchases grow 13.6 percent year-over-year. The Cupertino company took 7.2 percent of all semiconductor purchases.

Together, the two companies accounted for 15.2 percent of 2012 semiconductor demand. By comparison, the next five largest consumers — HP, Dell, Sony, Lenovo, and Toshiba — accounted for 15.1 percent of demand between them.

Gartner's figures largely reflect the changing landscape of the computing sector. Computing giants such as HP and Dell have seen demand for their traditional computing form factors fall in the face of increased interest in smartphones and tablets, the segments where Apple and Samsung are strongest. Troubled phone manufacturer Nokia fell five spots from its position on Gartner's list last year as demand for its handsets cratered.