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Qualcomm bucks global chip biz slump - report

But Intel and Samsung don't need to panic just yet

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Phone chip-maker Qualcomm defied the semiconductor industry decline to show double-digit year-on-year growth at a time when almost all of its rivals saw their sales slide, and the market as a whole dipped.

Or it will have done if a forecast made today by Gartner, a market watcher, proves correct.

Gartner today said it expects Qualcomm to post calendar 2012 revenues of $12.95bn, a whopping 29.5 per cent increase on 2011’s total of just under $10bn and sufficient to lift the company from sixth place in the world chip market to the number three slot.

That puts it behind only second-placed Samsung and market leader Intel, though it's a very long way to the rear of these companies.

The chip giant saw sales slip 2.7 per cent to $49.30bn, but since Samsung’s sales also fell - by 8.7 per cent to $24.97 billion - its lead over the South Korean company increased. Intel will go into 2013 owning 16.6 per cent of the market, while Samsung will take 8.4 per cent, according to Gartner’s numbers.

Intel’s decline is understandable: the PC market has been hammered by falling commercial demand in the face of troubled economies and by the rise of the tablet and the smartphone. The latter trend should have favoured Samsung, perhaps, but falling memory and flash storage prices hit it hard.

Qualcomm, on the other hand, focuses on processor and communications chip technology, allowing it to profit not only from rising smartphone sales but also the demand for 3G and 4G connectivity. It will walk away from 2012 with 4.4 per cent of the world chip market, Gartner predicted.

The trends helping Qualcomm aided its rival, Broadcom, too. Broadcom was the only other chip maker to show growth in 2012, according to Gartner’s data, though its revenues will be up only 8.8 per cent on 2011’s tally, to $7.79bn, the researcher reckons.

In turn, the growth moves Broadcom up from tenth place to ninth, displacing memory maker Micron in the process. The two ended up with 2.6 per cent and 2.3 per cent of the market respectively.

The remaining top 10 players include fourth-placed Texas Instruments, with revenues down 6.4 per cent to give it a market share of 3.7 per cent, and Toshiba, which drops from third place to fifth on sales down 13.7 per cent, giving it a 3.4 per cent share of the market.

Renesas, STMicro and Hynix took sixth, seventh and eighth places, respectively, for shares of 3.4 per cent, 2.8 per cent and 2.8 per cent. All saw year-on-year revenue falls - double-digit drops in the case of the European and Korean companies.

Worldwide semiconductor revenue totaled $298bn in 2012, a 3 per cent decline from 2011’s $307bn, Gartner said. ®

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