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Semiconductor revenue declined 3 percent in 2012

by on17 December 2012

A year we can't wait to forget

Weak PC market, economic woes in Europe, looming fiscal cliff in the US, underwhelming Windows 8 launch, disastrous Facebook IPO and Gangnam Style. They all marked 2012 in one way or another, but just in case we needed any, here’s more bad news.

According to Gartner, worldwide semiconductor revenue totaled $298 billion in 2012, a 3 percent drop from 2011 revenue of $307 billion. We shouldn’t be too surprised though. The industry was expected to show little growth in the first part of the year, and it did exactly that. However, it was also forecasted to recover toward the end of the year, which it didn’t.

"Uncertainty about the state of the macroeconomy, coupled with ongoing inventory overhang, sent ripples through the semiconductor industry," said Steve Ohr, research director at Gartner. "The hardest hit areas include the PC supply chain, memory, analog and discrete components. The PC business, ordinarily a growth driver, was on a negative slope for the first time in many years. PC production declined 2.5 percent in 2012. Even the smartphone juggernaut had begun to show signs of maturing, though it remained the strongest driver for revenue growth in 2012."

However, even when the industry is hurting, there are still clear winners and losers to talk about. Intel ended a year with a 2.7 percent decline, pretty much in line with the industry average. Of course Intel still reigned supreme. Oddly enough, Samsung saw its revenues dip 8.7 percent, but Qualcomm had nothing short of a great year, with 29.6 percent growth. Broadcom also rather did well, with growth of 8.8 percent. Both outfits should thank the booming smartphone market for their success.

STMicroelectronics, Toshiba and Hynix all saw their revenue decline by double digits. Overall, memory makers suffered the most, due to rapid price declines in both the NAND and DRAM markets.

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