SAN FRANCISCO—Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Apple Inc. ranked first and second among global semiconductor consumers for the fifth consecutive year, together accounting for nearly 18% of chips in 2015, according to a new report by market research firm Gartner Inc.
The two electronics giants combined to consume about $59 billion worth of chips in 2015, up $800 million from 2014, Gartner (Stamford, Conn.) said.
"Samsung Electronics and Apple have topped the semiconductor consumption table for five consecutive years, but the growth of Samsung's design total available market (TAM) was lower than the total semiconductor market in 2014 and 2015," said Masatsune Yamaji, principal research analyst at Gartner, in a statement.
Yamaji added that the risk of revenue declines from the largest semiconductor customers is increasing. Samsung and Lenovo Group Ltd., the two fastest growing consumers of semiconductors over the past five years, decreased their design TAM last year, he added.
The top 10 semiconductor buyers combined to purchase $123 billion worth of chips in 2015, nearly 37% of global semiconductor revenue in 2015, Gartner said. This was down from about 38% in 2014, the firm said.
Gartner attributed the decline in percentage of chips purchased by the top 10 buyers partly to Hewlett-Packard Co. spinning off its enterprise business, bumping Toshiba from the list of top 10 buyers.
Gartner said chip vendors, particularly general purpose chip vendors, are maneuvering to reduce their dependency on a handful of extremely large customers such as Samsung, Apple and Lenovo, as the growth of the personal electronic device market slows. Chip vnedors are making an effort to diversify their sales targets to the fragmented list of smaller customers.
According to Yamaji, seven of the top 10 chip buyers reduced their semiconductor demand in 2015 compared to 2014.
"The slowing of Samsung's design TAM since 2014 should be considered a big trend change,” Yamaji said. “The cycle of an inflated boom and the obsolescence of electronic equipment are becoming faster, and it is also much more difficult for leading companies to maintain their position for a long time. Current winners may not always be the winners in the future."
—Dylan McGrath covers the semiconductor industry for EE Times.