Apple leapfrogs HP as top semiconductor buyer

Apple claimed another scalp in moving towards what it sees as a post-PC world, with the popularity of its mobile devices making it the largest buyer of semiconductors.

Increased demand for products such as the iPad and iPhone helped push Apple to purchase $17.5 billion worth of semiconductors from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) last year.

This meant Apple jumped past HP into first place as it increased spending by 79.6 percent, from $9.7 billion in 2009, the highest rate of increase across the top ten OEM semi buyers.

It is indicative of Apple’s increase in power. Over the past couple of years it has jumped from third place in 2009, and way back in sixth place in 2008.

With Apple top of the NAND flash memory buyers chart too, IHS iSuppli experts believe that it is the “overwhelming success of its wireless products” that is the reason for Apple’s domination.

The gap is expected to widen over the coming years, with Apple’s lead over HP stretching from $2.4 billion in 2010 to $7.5 billion this year.

The argument for mobile computing gathered some weight with Apple’s predilection for wireless hardware contrasting heavily with HP’s approach.

Apple spent around 61 percent of its chip kitty on wireless devices such as the iPad tablet and its smartphone range, while HP splashed 82 percent of its cash on products like desktops, notebooks and servers.

Of course with the markets for hardware products fairly clear at the moment, while Apple hit the jackpot with its choice to go for mobile devices, HP seemingly backed the trusty, old, three-legged nag bound very slowly for the glue factory.

For example, while smartphone shipments rose 62 percent, and tablets came up trumps with a 900 percent increase, global PC shipments saw a comparatively lacklustre 14.2 percent increase, set to fall even further this year.

The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) forecasts that the worldwide market is expected to see a moderate 5.4 percent increase to $314.4 billion this year.

This follows from a solid recovery in 2010 of 31.8 percent following the economic crisis, where spending reached $298.3 billion.

Forecasts show that the growth will steadily increase from this year, with a 7.6 percent increase in 2012, to $338.4 billion, before reaching $356.6 billion in 2013.