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Slowing demand for key applications drag semiconductor market down

Spend on semiconductors is dropping, with Gartner reporting a 2.3% decline in 2015, as slowing demand for key applications and currency fluctuations caused turbulence.

The analyst firm says worldwide semiconductor revenue totalled US$334.8 billion, with the combined revenue of the top 25 semiconductor vendors falling 0.5% - a better performance than the rest of the market which saw a 6.9% decline. The top 25 vendors account for 73.5% of the market, a slight decrease from the 74% they held in 2014.

Intel continued to dominate, retaining its number one position for the 24th consecutive year, taking 15.4% of the market. However, it also recorded a 1.2% revenue decline.

Samsung Electronics retained second spot, with 11.3% after recording a 9.0% increase in revenue, with SK Hynix taking thrid with 4.9% market share.

Infineon Technologies saw the strongest growth among the top vendors, with its 19.6% growth propelling it from number 12 to number nine, with 2.0% revenue share.

Andrew Norwood, Gartner research vice president, says 2015 saw a mixed performance by the different device categories, unlike 2014, when all categories posted positive growth.

“Nonoptical sensors performed best due to increased usage of fingerprint sensors in smartphones, while discretes saw the strongest decline due to a mix of weak demand and currency issues,” Norwood says.

Gartner says 2015 saw record merger and acquisition activity between the major semiconductor vendors, including several acquisitions and disposals that had a material effect on semiconductor sales.

“Among the most significant was Intel’s acquistion of Lantiq,” Gartner says. “Driven by Lantiq’s broadband gateway and digital home capabilities, this acquisition helped Intel nearly double its wired ASSP business.”

Norwood says all the M&A activity skewed revenue results for the year.

“If we adjust for this M&A activity by adding in revenue for 2015 and 2014 where necessary, then the performance is somewhat different,” he says.

“The top 25 vendors would have experienced a 1.7% revenue decline and the rest of the market would have declined 3.9%.”

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