Samsung Electronics and Apple held onto their positions as the top semiconductor buyers in 2015, which accounts for 17.7 percent of the market, according to Gartner, Inc. Together, both companies consumed $59.0 billion of semiconductors in 2015, an increase of $0.8 billion from 2014. Rounding out the top five were Lenovo, Dell and HP.
"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. "Samsung and Lenovo, the fastest-growing companies over the last five years, decreased their design TAM in 2015 and the risk of revenue declines from the strongest customers for semiconductor chip vendors is increasing."
Gartner’s report, "Market Insight: Top 10 Semiconductor Chip Buyers, Worldwide, 2015 (Preliminary)", also reveals that the top 10 companies purchased $123 billion of semiconductors, accounting for 36.9 percent of semiconductor vendors' worldwide revenue in 2015. “This was down from 37.9 percent in 2014, which was worse than the semiconductor industry's global total decrease of 1.9 percent,” according to the report.
Yamaji attributes the market decline partly to HP spinning off its enterprise business, which pushed Toshiba off the top 10 list. “Toshiba's design TAM in 2015 was $4.6 billion, so the top 10 companies in 2014 (including HP Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Toshiba) represented $127.6 billion of semiconductors in 2015 on a design TAM basis, to account for 38.2 percent of semiconductor chip vendors' worldwide revenue.”
"Nine of the top 10 companies in the design TAM ranking for 2014 remained in the top 10 in 2015, but seven of the top 10 decreased their semiconductor demand in 2015," stated Yamaji. "The slowing of Samsung's design TAM since 2014 should be considered a big trend change. 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."
Many semiconductor chip vendors face the issue of revenue declines from their biggest customers particularly as the market for personal electronic devices continues to slow, according to Yamaji. As a result, many of them, particularly general-purpose chip vendors are trying to reduce their dependency on a limited number of large customers, such as Samsung Electronics, Apple and Lenovo.
According to the report, these chip makers are making an effort to diversify their sales to smaller, long-tail customers to stabilize their business growth with a “mass-marketing approach.”