Mobile chip sales to outpace PCs in 2013

Mobile phone chip sales are set to outpace total PC revenues for the first time next year, analysts house IC Insights has claimed.

Falling sales of desktops will contribute to mobile chips dominance in the demand for integrated circuits (ICs).  IC Insights classes total PC sales as all desktops, notebooks, fiddly hybrid devices, and thin client style systems like the Chromebook.

The report predicts that mobile chip sales, including smartphone chips, will outpace PCs for the first time next year.  Revenues for PC ICs and mobile ICs are expected to be $70.7 billion and $65.1 billion respectively in 2013.

For the past two decades, PCs have accounted for around a third of all IC sales.  This is expected to fall to a quarter of the market this year, before eventually accounting for less than a fifth by 2016.

At the same time mobile chip sales are going through the roof.  Sales are expected to account for 24 percent of the market this year, growing to 32 percent in 2016.

While there have been strong sales of smartphones in developed nations, it is widely expected that sales in emerging markets will see considerable growth in coming years.

The report forecasts that the total PC market will see growth in the years up to 2016. Total sales are expected to reach $348 billion from $268 billion in 2011, despite slow sales of desktops.  

Sales of desktop chips are expected to grow by a compound annual growth rate of 0.1 percent up to 2016.  Notebooks are forecast to grow by a CAGR of 7.4 percent.   

There is little optimism for sales of chips supporting Chromebook style devices, which are expected to decline by 0.4 percent over the period.

Tablets are set for significant growth over the period, with a CAGR of 33.9 percent.  

However the report notes that the IC content value of tablets is considerably lower than that of the PCs.  It is expected that it would take shipments of two tablets to generate the same amount of IC revenue as one desktop or laptop.

The forecasts are indicative of the shifting landscape for hardware sales. AMD announced yesterday that it would pay out $320 million to GlobalFoundries in order to reduce chip orders, to realign itself with declining PC sales.

Meanwhile, reports from IHS iSuppli earlier this week highlighted the strong growth that mobile chip firm Qualcomm has enjoyed, moving into third place place in terms of worldwide semiconductor sales, growing revenues by 27 percent during 2012.