IHS: Semiconductor sales fall by $7 billion in 2012

Despite seven of the world's top ten semiconductor suppliers feeling the pinch, Qualcomm has seen a significant increase in revenue thanks to the shift from the PC to post-PC devices.

A tough 2012 means that the semiconductor revenues falling by $7 billion compared to 2011, with seven of the world's top 10 semiconductor suppliers feeling the pinch, claims research firm IHS.

The research firm predicts that spending on semiconductors in 2012 will drop to $303 billion, down from $310 billion in 2011. This represents an overall decline of 2.3 percent.

IHS analyst Dale Ford said in a note that the overall market for semiconductors has been weak over the year, with five out of the six major hardware markets seeing a decline compared to 2011.

"This year has been terrible for most semiconductor application markets -- with the sole exception of the wireless segment, which is expected to generate robust revenue growth this year," said Ford. "Consumers are continuing to buy more smartphones and media tablets, even as sales of other once-hot products like PCs and flat-panel TVs decelerate or decline."

See also Android 'Jelly Bean' usage share more than doubles in a month

One company that has benefitted from the shift from the PC to post-PC devices has been Qualcomm, which has jumped from the number six spot in 2011 to the number three slot this year.

"With its chips at the heart of countless cellphones, including Apple Inc.'s marquee iPhone 5, Qualcomm has discovered an oasis of growth in the desert that is the semiconductor market in 2012," said Ford.

And things are looking good for the future for Qualcomm.

"With strong continuing growth expected in smartphone and tablet sales, Qualcomm is well positioned to benefit from the boost in wireless semiconductor revenue in the future," Ford noted.

Another company that IHS expects to see growth is Sony, where revenues are predicted to grow by over 20 percent. However, it is not TVs that is driving Sony's growth; image sensors accounts for nearly 60 percent of the company's semiconductor revenues.

"Even more amazing, its CMOS image sensor revenues are forecast to more than double," Ford said.

Despite all the shuffling, only one company is predicted to drop out of the top 20, with Panasonic expected to slip to number 21 following a drop in revenue of 13.0 percent. 

Image source: IHS.