Asian chip industry close second to U.S..

The Asia Pacific semiconductor market earned $56.9 billion in revenue in 2000.

Japan's semiconductor revenue reached $50.4 billion, an increase of 33% over revenue in 1999. But doubts linger about the industry's future.

TOKYO - Japan led the semiconductor pack increasing its revenue by 33% in 2000 according to a Gartner Dataquest report issued. This amounted to $4 billion over figures from 1999.

On the whole, the Asia Pacific semiconductor market earned revenue totaling US$56.9 billion in 2000. Revenue growth was only outpaced by the semiconductor industry in the US, which registered revenue of $71.7 billion in 2000, an increase of 29 percent over 1999.

When it came to company ranking, last year's top semiconductor manufacturer, NEC, lost the top spot to Toshiba, which had a bumper crop year stemming from its diversification efforts in the memory market.

STMicorelectronics also moved up to seventh spot from ninth followed by Hyundai Electronics which made it to eighth spot.

Despite strong growth, some doubts still linger as to whether the industry was nearing a troubled spot.

"We are now at the end of the second year of an up cycle and there is despondency regarding the future, as the fourth quarter of 2000 was weak relative to the preceding quarter," said Joe D'Elia, vice president and director of Gartner Dataquest's European semiconductor research.

"Historically, the industry has gone through inventory corrections during the positive portion of the industry cycle and we see no reason to believe that this current weakening is anything else other than an inventory correction."

"The fourth quarter slowdown was strongest in the Americas region, and it was a major factor in the lower-than-average growth experienced in the region," said Mr. D'Elia.