While year-end global sales were down 2.7 percent compared to the record-setting 2011 pace, sales for 2012 reached $291.6 billion, the industry’s third-highest yearly total ever.
During 2012, the largest growth sector for semiconductors was optoelectronics, a market which covers devices such as light sensors and camera technology. This sector increased 13.4 percent during 2012 to reach $26.2 billion for the year, growth driven mostly by the boom in mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.
NAND flash storage, such as that used in mobile devices, USB flash drives, and memory cards, grew at the second-fastest rate of 4.1 percent, hitting $25.4 billion for the whole year.
Broken down by regions, the Americas continued to show strong sales, increasing by 13.4 percent in December 2012 compared to December 2011, and by 12 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to the third quarter of 2012. Sales for the Asia Pacific region during December also increased compared to the same period in 2011, up 6.7 percent, but sales in Europe and Japan decreased over the same period, down 5.5 percent and 11.2 percent respectively. Total yearly sales in all four regions were lower in 2012 than 2011, with Asia Pacific and Americas seeing the smallest declines, down 0.6 percent and 1.5 percent respectively.
"Despite substantial macroeconomic challenges, the global semiconductor industry outperformed forecasts and posted one of its highest yearly sales totals in 2012," said Brian Toohey, president and CEO, Semiconductor Industry Association. "Recent momentum, led by strength in the Americas, has the industry well-positioned for a successful 2013."