Apple spends most on semiconductors; 61% for wireless products

June 9, 2011 — Apple bought the most semiconductors of all original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in 2010, largely to build iPhones and iPads, according to IHS iSuppli (NYSE: IHS) research. This is Apple’s first trip to the #1 spot, after being third in 2009 and sixth in 2008.

Rank   2009 2010 2011
1 Apple $9.7 $17.5 $22.4
2 Hewlett-Packard $10.3 $15.2 $14.8
3 Samsung Electronics $10.3 $13.9 $14.3
4 Dell $7.7 $11.0 $11.1
5 Nokia $7.7 $8.3 $8.1
6 Sony $6.2 $8.1 $8.3
7 Cisco Systems $5.3 $7.4 $7.5
8 Panasonic $5.2 $7.3 $7.0
9 LG Electronics $4.4 $4.9 $4.8
10 Toshiba $3.2 $4.6 $4.5
Click to Enlarge

Figure. Top 10 OEM semiconductor buyers (Ranking by revenue in millions of US dollars). SOURCE: IHS iSuppli.

To be the largest chip consumer, Apple spent $17.5 billion on semiconductors, a 79.6% leap from 2009 ($9.7 billion spent). Apple’s spending spree shot it up 2 positions in OEM chip spending, and it was the highest rate of increase among the world’s top 10 OEM semiconductor buyers. In 2009, Apple came in behind Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. The year before, its semiconductor spending was 6th highest in the world. Also read: April semiconductor sales report from SIA

Apple’s wireless products pushed up its semiconductor spending, says Wenlie Ye, IHS analyst. Apple spent approximately 61% of its semiconductor budget in 2010 on wireless products. iPhones and iPads consume NAND flash memory notably, and this made Apple the top purchaser for NAND flash specifically.

2010 wasn’t a flash in the pan for Apple’s chip spending: IHS expects it to grow at an above-average rate for several years. In 2011, Apple will spend $7.5 billion more than HP (in 2010 it spent $2.4 billion more). This is partly due to the smartphone/tablet market growth, which massively outgrew PCs in 2010 and should continue this trend. 82% of Hewlett-Packard’s 2010 semiconductor spending went to computer products (desktops, notebooks, servers).


Table. 2010 product shipment growth. SOURCE: IHS iSuppli.

Product Percent growth 2009-2010 (%)
Smart phones 62
Tablets >900
PCs 42

For more information, see Apple Overtaking HP as the Largest Semiconductor Buyer of the World at

IHS iSuppli technology value chain research and advisory services cover electronic component research, device-specific application market forecasts, teardown analysis, consumer electronics market trends and analysis, display device and systems research, automotive telematics, and more. IHS (NYSE: IHS) covers energy and power; design and supply chain; defense, risk and security; environmental, health and safety (EHS) and sustainability; country and industry forecasting; and commodities, pricing and cost.

Also read: Apple wins solar patent: Notice

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