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Apple, Samsung extend lead as top semiconductor buyers in 2020: survey

his file photo taken on Jan. 28, 2021, shows citizens with smartphones at Samsung Electronics Co.'s office building in Seoul. (Yonhap)
his file photo taken on Jan. 28, 2021, shows citizens with smartphones at Samsung Electronics Co.'s office building in Seoul. (Yonhap)
Reflecting the increased demand for telecommunications amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple remained the world’s largest buyer of semiconductor chips in 2020 for the second year straight, industry data showed Wednesday.

According to global research and consulting firm Gartner, Apple spent $53.6 billion on chips, up 24 percent from a year earlier, and thus accounted for 11.9 percent of the worldwide market.

Next was South Korea’s Samsung Electronics, which spent $36.4 billion, up 20.4 percent on-year.

“Two major factors impacted the top OEMs’ semiconductor spending in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and the political conflict between the US and China,” said Masatsune Yamaji, research director at Gartner.

“The pandemic weakened the demand for 5G smartphones and disrupted vehicle production, but drove the demand for mobile PCs and video games, as well as the investment in cloud data centers through 2020. Furthermore, a rise in memory prices in 2020 resulted in increased OEM chip spending through the year,” Yamaji said.

Boosting Apple’s chip demand was the continued success of AirPods, special demand for Mac computers and iPads, and increasing NAND flash consumption, Yamaji said.

For Samsung, one of the positive factors was the weakened competition from Huawei due to the US’ trade restrictions on the Chinese firm.

Samsung also benefited from COVID-19 trends such as working from home and e-learning, which drove demand for PCs and cloud servers, in which many solid-state drives from Samsung are used, Yamaji said.

Among the top 10 companies, Xiaomi marked the sharpest increase, up 26 percent on-year, partly driven by online sales and also benefiting from Huawei’s sanctions impact.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)

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