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Apple becomes largest purchaser of semiconductors on the planet

By Charles West.

Apple gains another notch on its belt by becoming the largest chip (semiconductor) purchaser in the world, beating out Samsung for the top spot, according to data from Gartner.

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The Cupertino-based company spent $17.3 billion on semiconductors in 2011, which catapulted it up to a 5.7 percent total share of chip purchasing.

Rounding out last years top three chip buyers is: Samsung at $16.7 billion and HP with $16.6 billion (both holding a 5.5 percent share). Research firm Gartner (who crunched these numbers), further explained the year-over-year growth of leading electronics manufacturers.

“The major growth drivers in 2011 were smartphones, media tablets and solid-state drives (SSDs),” said Masatsune Yamaji, principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a prepared statement. “Those companies that gained share in the smartphone market, such as Apple, Samsung Electronics and HTC, increased their semiconductor demand, while those who lost market share in this segment, such as Nokia and LG Electronics, decreased their semiconductor demand. Media tablets were also a growth driver for the semiconductor market throughout 2011.”

Of course, Apple showed the best growth in a five year span, which included successful products such as the iPad and the MacBook Air. The iPhone maker isn’t going to slow down anytime soon, so it’s widely expected that the company could eventually build a semiconductor development center of its own.

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