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August 21, 2015

Semiconductor vendors need to focus on smaller companies to de-risk growth

China is the fastest-growing small-customer ICs market.

By CBR Staff Writer

Gartner has urged semiconductor firms to change their sales strategy to focus on more number of smaller organisations for fast and stable growth with startups and small electronics companies investing $78.3bn on semiconductors in 2014.

The market research company said the investment represents 23% of the total market last year which could provide stable growth.

Gartner analysts suggested that companies should focus on the small companies and start ups instead of depending on big deals from large customers which are in a constant state of flux.

It is being estimated that there are over 165,000 companies that purchase semiconductor chips globally.

The top ten firms invest about 40% of the total semiconductor revenue, while the top 11 to 100 companies spend about 30%, and the rest spend 30%.

Several large customers have decreased orders in the last five years even though the top 10 accounting for a large percentage of the market, posing challenges to the semiconductor vendors that mainly supplied to them.

Semiconductor vendors are concerned over the risk of depending on large customers like Samsung and Apple, even though the companies have significantly increased orders in the same period because of the success in the smartphone market.

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Gartner principal research analyst Masatsune Yamaji said: "The industry has seen some fairly significant disruption in recent years, which has highlighted the risks associated with semiconductor vendors putting all of their focus on a limited number of large customers, when small companies offer highly profitable and stable growth.

"To overcome the risk, some semiconductor vendors have tried to increase their business with small customers, while others are also realizing that they should adjust their strategies to do this."

China is the fastest-growing small-customer market, with semiconductor revenue reaching $14.9bn in 2014 from $7.5bn in 2007.

Revenue from each customer is small in the Americas, EMEA and Japan. However, the total market size of small customers is big due to the large number of customers.

Gartner predicts that the number of customers will increase after 2017, due to growth of the electronics market in future and the increase in the Internet of Things solutions.

In order to take advantage of the increasing small-company market, Gartner said that vendors need to identify how much revenue can be anticipated, compared with the large customers.

The research firm noted that vendors need to have their own unique goals in the small-customer market as the importance of the small customers for each vendor varies by its product type and its targeted sales region.

Yamaji said: "Before jumping in, semiconductor vendors also need to be aware of the risks associated with the small-company market, which is prone to shrinking when the macro economy weakens.

"Revenue can also shrink even faster than large customers in many cases, so it is important to be aware of risk levels regarding any revenue decline. Vendors can reduce the risks by diversifying their customer base, which can spread the liability to allow for lost orders."

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