Semiconductor sales slumped sharply in 2019, new data from Gartner shows, falling nearly 12 percent on the previous year to $418.3 billion (£321 billion).
Intel resumed its place as the biggest chip company, taking back the top spot from Samsung Electronics, which dislodged it in 2018 after a 25-year run.
The chip heavyweight was by some margin the most resilient in the sector last year, with 2018-2019 growth down just 0.7. (That’s percent versus falls of 29 percent, 32 percent and 38 percent for Samsung, Micron and SK Hynix respectively).
Gartner research VP Andrew Norwood said: “In 2020, we expect to see semiconductor market revenue increase after the high inventory clearance to drive up the chip average selling price, especially in the memory sector. The US-China trade war seems to be easing as we move into 2020. However, during 2019 the US added several Chinese companies, including Huawei, to the Entity List restricting the sale of US components.
He added: “The immediate impact was to push Huawei into looking outside the US for alternative silicon suppliers, with wholly owned HiSilicon at the top of the list as well as alternative suppliers based in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and China.”
In 2019, the memory market accounted for 26.7 percent of sales, down 31.5 percent overall. Norwood noted: “Within memory, DRAM revenue declined 37.5 percent due to an oversupply that started at the end of 2018 and lasted throughout 2019.”
The global semiconductor market is being affect by an array of issues such as a weaker pricing environment driven by an oversupply of DRAM and an ongoing US-China trade war that is affecting the growth of smartphone, servers and PC development.
Global PC shipments meanwhile are on the rise and grew 2.3 percent in Q4 of 2019, the research house said: “The PC market experienced growth for the first time since 2011, driven by vibrant business demand for Windows 10 upgrades, particularly in the US, EMEA and Japan,” said Mikako Kitagawa, senior principal analyst at Gartner.
She added: “We expect this growth to continue through this year even after Windows 7 support comes to an end this month, as many businesses in emerging regions such as China, Eurasia and the emerging Asia/Pacific have not yet upgraded.”
While an ongoing Intel CPU shortage, which began mid-last year, became a major issue again on PC delivery to enterprise customers by the top three vendors, the top three vendors (Lenovo, HP Inc. and Dell) increased their combined market share through 2019 to the highest level since Gartner began tracking PC data.