9. With electronics production booming in China and other Far Eastern nations, it was just a matter of time before the world's fastest growing chip market would overtake the Americas, which is mainly the U.S., as the largest semiconductor marketplace. But it happened in 2001--a lot sooner than some people expected.
Just a year ago, the Semiconductor Industry Association's consensus forecast called for the Americas to remain the top chip market for another four years. While the shift probably was speeded up by the U.S. plunging into recession faster than the rest of the world, the emergence of the Asia Pacific region as the world's largest chip market now looks to be a permanent change.
In 2000, the Americas accounted for nearly one-third of the world's $204 billion in chip sales, while the Asia Pacific region--which doesn't include Japan by the way--consumed about 25% of the industry's semiconductors. But monthly sales reports in 2001 showed the two regions suddenly flip-flopping.
Pushing the Pacific Rim to the top was the growth in outsourcing of systems manufacturing to Asian assembly houses, primarily in the production of cell-phone handsets and networking gear, by troubled communications equipment suppliers. China's emergence as the hot new chip market certainly gave a big boost to the region's growth.
And it certainly looks like the Asia Pacific region will remain on top with the Americas continuing in second place in chip sales. The U.S.-based SIA in its 2001 fall forecast called for Asia Pacific to pull away from the Americas during the next four years.
Chip sales in the Americas in 2001 were estimated to total $36 billion, quite a bit less than the $39 billion sold in the Asia Pacific region, according to the SIA forecast. By 2004, the gap between the two was expected to increase to $11 billion--sales in the Americas totaling $56 billion while Asia Pacific jumps to $67 billion.
(Return to 2001 Top 10 list or go to No. 10).