Intel reclaimed top spot in global semiconductor market; Samsung moved to No. 2.
Worldwide semiconductor revenue totaled $419.1 billion in 2019, down 12% from 2018, according to final results by Gartner, Inc.
“Oversupply in the DRAM market helped push the overall memory market down 32.7% 2019. The memory market accounted for 26.1% of semiconductor sales in 2019 and was the worst-performing device segment,” said Andrew Norwood, research vice president at Gartner. “The U.S.-China trade war distorted sales throughout the year and was an additional headwind to revenue growth for the overall global semiconductor market. During 2019, this brewing trade war seemed the most imminent danger to the world economy, but with the current spread of the COVID-19 virus, trade wars seem a minor issue in comparison.”
Intel regained the No. 1 position in the market as the downturn in the memory market negatively impacted many of the top vendors, including Samsung Electronics, the No. 1 vendor by revenue in 2018 and 2017 (see Table 1).
Table 1. Top 10 Semiconductor Vendors by Revenue, Worldwide, 2019 (Millions of U.S. Dollars)
|2019 Rank||2018 Rank||Vendor||2019 Revenue||2019 Market Share (%)||2018 Revenue||2018-2019 Growth (%)|
(outside top 10)
Source: Gartner (April 2020)
Within the memory segment, NAND flash suffered its worst sales contraction in its history with 2019 revenue declining 26.4% due to elevated levels of inventory at the end of 2018 and sluggish demand in the first half of 2019. Weak demand from smartphone and hyperscale cloud service providers drove down prices and forced nearly all vendors to pull back on existing fab plans or, in some cases, cut wafer starts to levels below 2018. The NAND market began to stabilize in July 2019 when a power outage in the fabs jointly owned by KIOXIA and Western Digital acted as a catalyst to reduce vendor inventories and prompted prices to increase from unsustainable lower levels.
Performance in other device categories was mixed as analog products declined 5.1% in 2019 and the optoelectronics segment grew 6.6% in 2019. Analog components, which normally closely track the overall semiconductor market, experienced a decline due to weak end-equipment markets, especially industrial and legacy automotive. Optoelectronics recorded the best performance of any device category due to the increasing number of cameras in smartphones.
“At this point, the global semiconductor market appears to be headed for another decline in 2020, due to the impact of the coronavirus on semiconductor supply and demand,” said Mr. Norwood. COVID-19 has distorted supply chain and manufacturing operations across the world and will lead to a drastic drop in consumer and enterprise spending across most areas with a few exceptions. Gartner expects the global semiconductor market to decline 0.9% in 2020, which is down from forecasted growth of 12.5% at the end of 2019.