IHS said it expects the data processing, consumer electronics, industrial, wired communications and automotive market segments to decline year-over-year in 2012. Of the six major semiconductor end markets, only the hot wireless segment is set to expand this year, according to the firm.
The PC-dominated data processing segment—the largest semiconductor application market—is on track to plunge by 7.8 percent this year, according to IHS. Global PC shipments will shrink in 2012 for the first time in 11 years, due to a combination of economic factors and competition with new platforms, including media tablets, IHS said.
"The surge in popularity of smartphones and media tablets is driving healthy growth in the overall wireless semiconductor market segment in 2012 with a projected 7.7 percent expansion," Ford said. "However, all of the other end markets for semiconductors will see revenues fall in 2012, negating all the positive effects of the wireless segment."
IHS said quarterly chip sales figures this year have been "very disappointing," with sequential second- and third-quarter growth amounting to just 2.7 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively. Only the fourth quarter of 2012 is expected to show year-over-year improvement, with a slight 1.9 percent uptick compared to the fourth quarter of 2011, IHS said.
But IHS said the slender growth in the fourth quarter could set the stage for a return to a consistent pattern of expansion in 2013. The firm projects that the chip market will grow 8.2 percent in 2013 if the small improvement in worldwide GDP growth forecast for 2013 holds up.