Representing 19.5 percent of the total worldwide market, Samsung and Apple have retained their leadership as the top two semiconductor chip buyers in 2017, market research firm Gartner said on Thursday. The firm reports that Samsung and Apple together consumed semiconductors worth $81.8 billion (approximately Rs. 5.2 lakh crores) in 2017, showing an increase of more than $20 billion (roughly Rs. 1.27 lakh crores) from 2016.

Samsung grew its semiconductor spending by 37.2 percent and spent whopping $43.1 billion (approximately Rs. 2.74 lakh crores) in 2017. Apple’s semiconductor spending, on the other hand, increased by 27.5 percent and reached $38.7 billion (around Rs. 2.46 lakh crores). Interestingly, both the companies are holding the top position since 2011. “Samsung Electronics and Apple not only retained their respective No. 1 and No. 2 positions, they also radically increased their share of semiconductor spending through 2017,” said Masatsune Yamaji, principal research analyst at Gartner.

In addition to the continuous growth of Samsung and Apple, the preliminary rankings revealed by Gartner highlights eight of top 10 semiconductor buyers in 2016 remained in the top 10 list in 2017, with the top five chip buyers remaining in the same position. LG Electronics made a comeback to the top 10 list and was joined by Western Digital, which grew its semiconductor spending by $1.7 billion (approximately Rs. 10,800 crores). Also, China’s BBK Electronics, the parent company of OnePlus, Oppo, and Vivo, rose one place to the sixth position with increasing its semiconductor spending by $5.7 billion (roughly Rs. 36,200 crores).

Gartner points out a significant price increase of DRAM and NAND flash memory had majorly influenced the total semiconductor buyers’ ranking in 2017. Similarly, supply shortages, mainly for memory IC, microcontrollers, and passive components, benefited the suppliers but troubled the OEMs, the firm said. The increase in OEMs’ captive chip spending that is aimed to add distinctions in their models reportedly brought a great risk for commercial chip vendors. Companies, including Huawei and Samsung, brought their own silicon solutions that reduced the demand for chips developed by Qualcomm and MediaTek.

The share of semiconductor spending by the top 10 OEMs reached 40 percent of the total semiconductor market in 2017, up from 31 percent 10 years ago. Gartner predicts that this trend will continue and by 2021, the top 10 OEMs will account for more than 45 percent of global semiconductor spending.

With the top 10 semiconductor chip buyers commanding an increasing share of the market, technology product marketing leaders at chip vendors must focus on their leading customers. They will need to prioritise direct sales and technical support resources to these top customers by exploiting online technical support capabilities and outsourcing the support for long-tail customers to third-party partners and distributors,” said Mr. Yamaji.

Earlier this month, Gartner reported that Samsung had replaced Intel and became the top player in the global semiconductor market in 2017 with a share of 14.6 percent. The prime reason for the growth of the South Korean company in the market for semiconductors was found to be the increased prices of NAND flash and DRAM chips. “NAND flash prices increased year over year for the first time ever, up 17 percent, while DRAM prices rose 44 percent,” the Gartner report had said.

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