Chinese climb ranks of top ten chip buyers

February 04, 2019 // By Peter Clarke
Samsung and Apple continued as the top two purchasers of semiconductors in 2018 but lost market share Chinese companies occupied four of the top ten places, according to a chip purchasing ranking produced by Gartner.

The most notable of these is Huawei, which expanded its chip buying by 45.2 percent compared with 2017, and climbed from fifth ranked to third ranked. This chip purchasing is driven by success in the smartphone market where Huawei is set to displace Samsung.

Huawei is also the world's largest vendor of communications infrastructure equipment but is banned from sale in the United State and is coming under pressure in many other European and other countries aligned with the US. Australia, Germany, Poland and Vodafone have recently raised issues with Huawei tendering for infrastructure.

The other Chinese companies in the top ten are Lenovo, BBK Electronics – which includes mobile phone brands Oppo and Vivo – and new entrant Xiaomi.

Samsung Electronics and Apple showed modest growth in purchasing but were still responsible for buying 17.9 percent of all semiconductors produced in 2018, compared with 18.8 percent in 2017, according to the latest figures from Gartner. Gartner has marked Samsung and Apple down from the 19.5 percent share given in preliminary figures a year ago (see Samsung, Apple bought 19.5% of global chip supply in 2017).

Preliminary ranking of top 10 semiconductor purchasing companies worldwide in 2018, (millions of dollars). Source: Gartner Inc.

Eight of the top 10 companies in 2017 remained in the top 10 in 2018, with Kingston Technology and Xiaomi replacing LG Electronics and Sony. Xiaomi rose eight places to 10th position, increasing its semiconductor spending by $2.7 billion in 2018, a 63 percent growth year over year.

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