Qualcomm takes third place in global semiconductor market in 2012

December 05, 2012 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
In a miserable 2012 semiconductor market that will see revenue decline at seven of the world’s Top 10 semiconductor suppliers, Qualcomm Inc., is standing out, with a double-digit increase in sales that will make it the world’s third-largest chip maker this year.

Qualcomm is set to end 2012 with a stunning 27.2 percent growth in semiconductor revenue, according to preliminary results from the IHS iSuppli Competitive Landscaping Tool (CLT). This represents the highest rate of growth of any top 10 or even any top 20 semiconductor supplier.

The nearly 30 percent increase in revenue will cause Qualcomm’s share of the market to climb by a full percentage point to 4.3 percent. More significantly, it will allow Qualcomm to rise three positions and take third place in the global semiconductor business—the first time it has reached such an elevated rank.

“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. “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's marquee iPhone 5, Qualcomm has discovered an oasis of growth in the desert that is the semiconductor market in 2012.”

The company’s rise in the rankings is part of long-term trend that reflects the growing importance of the wireless market in the electronics supply chain.

“In 2010, Qualcomm placed only ninth among global semiconductor suppliers,” Ford observed. “This six-rank ascent in two years represents the biggest increase of any major semiconductor supplier in recent history. With strong continuing growth expected in smartphone and tablet sales, Qualcomm is well positioned to benefit from the boost in wireless semiconductor revenue in the future.”

Seven companies among the Top 20 semiconductor suppliers are expected to suffer double-digit percentage declines in revenue in 2012: Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Freescale Semiconductor, Texas Instruments, Toshiba, STMicroelectronics, Elpida Memory and Renesas Electronics. Revenue contractions for these companies will range from 11.4 to 17.7 percent.

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