Qualcomm Soars, Others Sink In Tough Semiconductor Market, Says Analyst11:45 AM EST Tue. Dec. 04, 2012
Qualcomm was this year's fastest-growing chip maker by far, representing one of the few bright spots in an overall declining semiconductor market.
According to a new report from research firm IHS iSuppli, Qualcomm, whose ARM-based processors are used primarily in smartphones and tablets, saw double-digit increases in sales in 2012, with its annual revenue growing 27.2 percent year over year from $10 billion in 2011 to a projected $13 billion in 2012.
This growth propelled Qualcomm to become the world's third-largest chip maker this year, trailing only Intel and runner-up Samsung. As recently as 2010, Qualcomm ranked only ninth among global semiconductor suppliers.
Qualcomm's staggering growth contrasts with an overall weakening semiconductor market, IHS iSuppli said. Total revenue for the global chip market fell 2.3 percent this year, a decline that can be attributed, at least in part, to falling sales of traditional laptop and desktop PCs.
"This year has been terrible for most semiconductor application markets -- with the sole exception of the wireless segment, which is expected to generate robust revenue growth this year," said Dale Ford, senior director at IHS iSuppli, in a statement. "Consumers are continuing to buy more smartphones and media tablets, even as sales of other once-hot products like PCs and flat-panel TVs decelerate or decline. With its chips at the heart of countless cellphones, including Apple Inc.'s marquee iPhone 5, Qualcomm has discovered an oasis of growth in the desert that is the semiconductor market in 2012."
Market leader Intel managed to maintain its No. 1 spot but will see its revenue decline 2.4 percent year-over-year, IHS iSuppli projected, falling from approximately $48.7 billion last year to $47.5 billion in 2012.
Fellow x86-based chip maker AMD will see its revenue slide 17.7 percent, dropping from $6.4 billion in 2011 to a projected $5.3 billion in 2012, according to IHS iSuppli.
Both Intel and AMD have taken a hit over the past few quarters as PC sales continue to drop. While attempting to capture share in the lucrative smartphone and tablet markets, both are facing an uphill battle against ARM-based chip makers such as Qualcomm and Samsung.
Sony was the second-fastest-growing chip maker this year, according to IHS iSuppli, with its revenue shooting up more than 20 percent. The only other companies among the world's 20 biggest chip makers to see growth in 2012 were Samsung, Broadcom, NXP, Nvidia and MediaTek.
PUBLISHED DEC. 4, 2012