Apple now takes the biggest bite of the world’s chip market

March 23, 2012, 11:48 AM UTC

Overtook Samsung and HP in 2011 on sales of iPhones, iPads and MacBook Airs

Chart: PED. Data: Gartner, Inc.

The pie chart at right, created from data that showed up in Gartner Inc’s RSS feed on Thursday, tells only part of the story. It shows Apple (AAPL) consuming 5.7% of the world’s semiconductor capacity, overtaking Samsung and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) in 2011.

But to get a sense of how dramatically conditions changed in the worldwide chip market last year, check out the chart below, showing the percentage difference in semiconductor consumption between 2010 and 2011 among the top 10 buyers.

Chart: PED. Data: Gartner, Inc.

“The major growth drivers in 2011 were smartphones, media tablets and solid-state drives (SSDs),” said Gartner analyst Masatsune Yamaji in Thursday’s press release. “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.”

Gartner’s press release notes that Apple had an added edge over its competitors last year:

Apple gained a much greater share of the smartphone market, and its media tablet business was also highly successful in 2011. While DRAM prices fell drastically in 2011, and many PC vendors decreased their total semiconductor demand accordingly, the success of the MacBook Air enabled Apple to increase semiconductor chip demand even in its PC business.

UPDATE: Discerning readers note that although the press release just showed up on Gartner’s RSS feed this week, it was issued in January and got some press coverage back then. My bad.