Apple the world’s top semiconductor buyer in 2013 by a large margin

Apple remained the world’s largest buyer of semiconductor chips in 2013, according to a new report from IHS Technology.

“As in 2012, Apple and Samsung were the top semiconductor spenders in 2013 among original equipment manufacturers (OEM) making more than $1 billion in revenue,” said Myson Robles-Bruce, senior analyst for semiconductor spend and design analysis at IHS, in a statement. “Apple was in first place with chip spending in 2013 of $30.3 billion, outspending runner-up Samsung’s $22.2 billion by more than $8 billion.”

Combined, the two claimed about 14 percent of total spending in 2013, well ahead of other prominent chip buyers. Rounding out the Top 5 are Hewlett-Packard in third place, with $10.1 billion in spending; Lenovo in fourth, with $9.2 billion; and Dell in fifth, with $7.7 billion. The rest of the Top 10 includes Cisco Systems, Sony, Huawei Technologies, Panasonic and Toshiba.

All told, the served available market (SAM) for semiconductor spending reached $237.2 billion in 2013, up nearly 5 percent after spending dipped from $231.7 billion in 2011 to $226.7 billion in 2012.

IHS: top semiconductor spenders in 2013

The SAM metric counts only expenditures that an OEM made as an external agent, which gives a truer picture of the state of chip spending in the electronics industry. This is because SAM does not factor in spending by manufacturers for chip buying done at their own internal divisions—as can happen with entities like Samsung, whose internal customers within the vast Samsung family of companies compete with external clients in sourcing Samsung-made semiconductors.

The findings are contained in the report, “Wireless and Industrial Boost Semiconductor Spending,” which tracks the semiconductor procurement of more than 200 electronics companies.

In the consumer market Apple and Samsung continue to face off in their smartphones and tablet offerings, where the two are locked in fierce combat. Apple remains the leader in both smartphones and tablets, with its iPhone and iPad selling in greater numbers than Samsung’s Galaxy line of handsets and tablets.

Spending last year on semiconductors was strongest in the wireless segment among seven different application categories.

Wireless accounted for nearly one-third of total OEM chip spending at 31 percent, followed by chip spending on computer platforms at a distant second with 22 percent. In third place was chip spending on consumer devices, at 16 percent.

The remaining four categories claimed single-digit share in total OEM chip spending. These segments include industrial, automotive, wired communications and computer peripherals.

The top OEM buyers in the wireless segment were Apple, Samsung, Huawei, ZTE and LG. And for the first time, spending on tablets overtook that on wireless infrastructure. Both were still well behind handsets, which remained far and away the top category for OEM chip spending in the wireless segment.

Wireless was also the fastest-growing application segment this year, up 20 percent; with industrial electronics in second place, up 7 percent.

Source: IHS


  1. But! but! How can they be on top of the heap when they have their heads up their asses MDN?
    Shouldn’t they be concentrating on making larger iPhones like Samsung MDN?
    But if they make larger iPhones like Samsung phones, will they be able to but more semiconductor chips than they currently are MDN?
    So what are they doing wrong that is keeping them on top of the heap MDN?

    1. Will they be able to buy more, not but more!!!
      I guess I ought to try to control my emotions better, its just that MDN’s takes against Apple inc. for a perceived failure in producing galaxy style iPhones when clearly the market demand for the iPhone in its current form factor has still not been sated is ill judged.

        1. You’re not imagining things, Crabapple. It’s real. MDN is, after all, a person, or combination of persons, subject to the same cognitive biases as any citizen, from the chimney-sweep on up through the National security advisor. No one is 100% intellectually consistent. Truth is never known, it is felt, so continue to trust your gut feelings.

  2. I am hoping Apple becomes the lowest semiconductor buyer. I am hoping the A10 chip will do the processor, RAM, wifi, LTE 6G, accelerometer, FLASH storage, screen drivers all in one chip.

    1. That will happen when Apple buys ARM (All of it. Apple used to own part of it because Apple was one of the founders of ARM (Acorn, Apple, VLSI.) and buys Intel to make the processors that it designs. 😉

  3. Wish thy were tops on customer service. I have been buying apple products since the1980s. Last week went to buy two iPhones at th fifth ave store in ny for my girls. Sales person brought them to us and took us to a corner and told us to wait for someone to help us set it up. After about 30 minutes I inquired about some help from another sales person who got someone else to help us. Why do I feel if Steve Jobs was still alive this would have never happened.

  4. Apple’s annual revenues are ~$160B. So their chip spend is ~20% of revenue. That’s a significant chunk but must be less that Samsung’s given that their revenue is less.
    I can see also why it would be an incentive to switch from Intel to ARM chips for the PCs.

  5. Why is a supposedly dying company buying so many chips? Maybe they’re confusing semiconductor chips with potato chips. Yeah, Apple employees are probably just sitting around eating potato chips before the company closes down.


    1. The analysts are conflating banana chips, sweet potato chips, etc. to confound investors uncertain as to categories. There is no end to their depraved schemes, I tell you!

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