Chip sales up slightly in Q1 despite continued PC market decline

Summary:Sales in semiconductors are up month-on-month and year-on-year, but the balancing act between PCs and tablets is beginning to help the memory and chip making industry recover.

Sales of semiconductors were up by 0.9 percent year-on-year during the first quarter.

Figures from the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) show that worldwide sales in semiconductors — such as memory and chips in PCs, tablets and smartphones — hit $23.48 billion during March, an increase of 1.1 percent on February's totals of $23.23 billion. (All monthly sales represent a three-month moving average.)

It's far from a significant month-on-month jump, considering the semiconductor industry has been in a steep decline over the past three years, but the market is beginning to stabilize after its latest peak in 2010. 

There's good news and bad. 

The Asia-Pacific market saw a massive 6.9 percent in sales, while Europe kept things in a modest check with a 0.7 percent increase. However, the Americas saw a 1.5 percent drop, while Japan's market plummeted by 18 percent year-over-year, which accounted for the lack of any significant uptick in global sales progress.

Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 08.49.15
Image: Semiconductor Industry Association

Semiconductors still matter. After all, they're the bits of silicon that power your handheld and portable devices, as well as being the parts of the components that still make the clunky desktop PC tick over. 

You can see that during the Thai floods and the Japan earthquake, as well as it being in the middle of the world's most painful recession in generations, the semiconductor industry was hit hard. People weren't spending because the global economy ground to a halt.

But during the period in which the iPad was first launched in 2010 — the iPad didn't just help the tablet market, it actively carved it out of nothingness — sales rocketed. But almost as soon as it did, the PC market began to decline. At this point, while tablet uptake is on the rise and PCs are generally down , the balance is beginning to level out.

Topics: Hardware

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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