Apple and Samsung were at the top of OEMs in semiconductor spending for 2013 and likely to stay within the leading group in 2014 as well

Apple and Samsung - the top of OEMs in semiconductor

A report from IHS Technology released a couple of months ago revealed that Samsung and Apple were the top buyers of semiconductor chips in 2013 among the leading original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Myson Robles-Bruce, senior analyst for semiconductor spend and design analysis at IHS, said that in first place was Apple, with chip spending of more than $30 billion, followed by Samsung, with slightly more than $22 billion. He noted that Samsung, however, had a larger spending increase on chips with about a 30 percent increase from 2012 levels as compared to the smaller increase by Apple. The two leading companies combined for 14 percent of total OEM spending in 2013.

As for this year, it is likely that the two giant companies may continue to spend in line with past year.

A few days, ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed, for example, that Apple will still invest a lot on the Mac while most other companies are now throwing in the towel with PC development.

In another recent report published by Gartner a few days ago, Samsung is expected to be one of the companies to lead capital spending in 2014 as well, with major investments for the development and mass production of new technologies as 3-bit NAND solid state drive for the consumer and enterprise markets.

As for last year spending, among the seven different application categories for semiconductors, the largest spending on semiconductors was in the wireless segment, which accounted for almost one-third of total OEM chip spending at 31 percent.

This was followed by a 20 percent for chip spending on various computer platforms and a 15 percent for consumer devices. The industrial, automotive, wired communications, and computer peripherals categories round up the total OEM chip spending with each one claiming a single-digit percentage share. One noteworthy statistic is in the wireless segment, with spending on tablets in 2013 overtaking that of wireless infrastructure for the first time.

The situation is likely to change for this year, with an increase in spending for tablets and mobile devices along with a significant rise in investments in the so-called “internet-of-things” which is widely assumed to become the next big thing in the semiconductor and electronics market.

In the tablet and smartphone arena, Apple and Samsung remain locked in their rivalry as the top companies, where Apple is still leading on both fronts but facing increasing competition from the giant Korean maker.

In 2013, Apple and Samsung were followed by Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Dell, Cisco Systems, Sony, Huawei Technologies, Panasonic, and Toshiba to round up the top ten OEM semiconductor spenders for 2013. The served available market for semiconductor spending in 2013 reached $237.2 billion, which is an almost 5 percent increase from $226.7 billion in 2012.

Robles-Bruce noted that one example of the challenge that Apple faces is Samsung’s strategy with its intention to utilize flexible active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) display technology on its products.  Moreover, Samsung’s drive to sell its products in areas that already have high smartphone penetration could be a challenge to Apple. Apple is also hindered by the high manufacturing cost of the iPhone.

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