The chip industry has just gone through one of its worst years on record, sales off 11.4% over 2008, according to Gartner estimates.
Sales have shrunk this year for only the sixth time in the last quarter century and the first time ever they have declined two years in a row, said Gartner’s semiconductor research director Stephan Ohr.
“Revenue dropped precipitously in the first quarter of 2009, continuing a deterioration which started in the last quarter of 2008,” he said. “A small uptick, noted toward the end of the first quarter, led to significant quarter-over-quarter growth in the periods that followed.”
Total sales were $226 billion (€157 b) , down $26 billion from 2008. Revenue fell 5.4% in 2008 with the onset of the recession in the fourth quarter.
Ohr said the enterprise segment was worst hit and remained slow to recover. As consumer sentiment improved during the year, however, the PC sector was the first to revive, followed later by segments such as cell phones and automobiles.
He said Japanese semiconductor vendors were hard hit by the world recession, which had trimmed orders, and also by the strong Japanese yen, which made Japanese products more expensive.
Only three of the top 10 semiconductor vendors saw revenue growth in 2009; and two of those were memory manufacturers Samsung and Hynix.
Qualcomm grew slightly by capturing market share among cellular baseband processors.
Outside the top ten, but still in the top 25, Taiwan's MediaTek grew 21.4% because of its strong sales to smaller Chinese cell phone makers. It was the only company within the top 25 to show double-digit growth, Gartner said.
Intel held the No. 1 position for the 18th consecutive year, despite revenue declines, and it increased its market share to 14.2%, the research firm reported.