Electronic systems sales are expected to clock in at a typical six percent growth this year, nudging up to about seven percent next year. The telecom sector leads the growth at about 12 percent this year, followed by automotive at about six percent.
Mobile devices are also on the rise. Smartphones are growing not only in units but as a percentage of all cellphones (30 percent by the end of 2011), and the average selling price of a smartphone is at $118, up from $107 last year.
"If you are not in the smartphone business, you are out of the cellphone business at this point," said McClean.
He noted a 14 percent decline in cellphone sales at Nokia which was late to enter smartphones. Meanwhile sales have almost doubled for Taiwan's HTC that has focused on high-end smartphones.
IC Insights projects small steadily increases in PC sales for the next two quarters. Annual sales will rise from three percent growth this year to five percent in 2012 with most of the expansion coming from business buyers.
Uncertainty over how the rise of tablets will impact notebooks is especially high. Tablets are "so new people don't know how they're going to play out--this is really important for semiconductor industry," McClean said.
People seem to be buying tablets instead of upgrading notebooks or buying netbooks this year, but it's unclear whether that trend will continue. "You know Intel is going crazy because if people buy tablets instead of a PC, that’s a disaster for them," he said.
Tablets use a quarter of the DRAM memory in a laptop, but they build in more NAND flash. However, if tablets sell in the high volumes IC Insights projects (55 million this year, rising to 176 million in 2015) the total amount of chips used in mobile systems will lift all boats.
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