Hinting at big changes both in the semiconductor market, and the wider electronics market, Samsung's five quarters of dominance in the semiconductor revenue charts came to an end in Q4 2018 with Intel grabbing the top spot, claims an IHS Markit report. Intel's semiconductor sales revenue hit $18.4 billion during the quarter, compared to $15.8 billion for Samsung.
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But it's not all good news for Intel. Quarter-over-quarter, Intel's semiconductor sales fell by 2.3 percent during the quarter. While that's not good, it's worse for Samsung, which saw semiconductor sales falling by a massive 24.9 percent.
The report blames the fall on a declining market for semiconductors used in mobile handsets and enterprise servers.
"Samsung has traditionally been far more dependent on memory chip sales than Intel, so when mobile handset sales slowed dramatically last year, so did the company's memory chip sales," said Ron Ellwanger, senior analyst, semiconductor manufacturing, IHS Markit. "The last time the memory market decreased more was in the fourth quarter of 2008, at the height of the global financial crisis."
Based on more number-crunching by IHS Markit, Samsung's annual semiconductor revenue grew by 20.3 percent, year over year, reaching $74.6 billion in 2018. Intel's semiconductor revenue increased by 13.4 percent, to reach $69.9 billion. Nearly all (87 percent) of Samsung semiconductor sales in the fourth quarter were memory chips, compared to just 6 percent for Intel.