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Gartner: Intel reigns, Qualcomm gains

Qualcomm is gaining in global chip rankings by revenue, while Intel still sits comfortably at the top, according to a new report.

Qualcomm is gaining in global chip rankings by revenue, while Intel still sits comfortably at the top, according to market researcher Gartner.

Worldwide semiconductor revenue totaled $255 billion in 2008, down 5.4 percent, or a decrease of $14.5 billion from 2007 revenue, according to the final market share analysis released by Gartner on Wednesday.

"While sales held up fairly well in the first half of 2008, in the third quarter the industry started to soften as the economy slowed, and by the fourth quarter sales were deteriorating quickly, causing revenue growth to go into negative territory," said Peter Middleton, principal research analyst at Gartner, in a statement.

Intel held the No. 1 position for the 17th consecutive year, increasing its market share to 13.3 percent in 2008, although revenue declined by 0.5 percent, a result of spinning off its NOR flash memory business, Gartner said. "The company outperformed the industry average due to the strong performance of its notebook business in which the company gained share throughout the year," according to Gartner.


Reports on Thursday say Intel, whose shares have been gaining over the last month, may fare better than expected when it reports earnings on April 14. "We think the first-quarter results will beat Intel's internal forecast and consensus estimates and expect second-quarter guidance to reflect modest growth," The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, quoting Wedbush Morgan analyst Patrick Wang.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker, however, should probably keep an eye on its flourishing California rival, San Diego-based Qualcomm--the "best performer" among the 2008 top 10 in Gartner's market share analysis. The world's largest supplier of cell phone silicon saw growth of 15.3 percent, driven by a strong first three quarters of the year. It jumped in ranking from No. 11 in 2007 to No. 8 in 2008.

Samsung, the No. 2 chip vendor, was among the hardest hit because its main products lines are memory, a chip category that saw steep declines in 2008. The company's revenue fell 15 percent in 2008 as a result of oversupply and consequent price drops in DRAM (used as the main memory in PCs) and NAND flash (used as storage in cameras, digital music players, and solid-state drives).

No.3 Toshiba saw revenue fall 10.3 percent in its lines of chips for consumer, wireless, and automotive electronics due to a market free-fall in the second half of 2008, Gartner said.

Broadcom led the rankings in 2008 for "Relative Industry Performance"--which measures the difference between industry-specific growth for a company and actual growth, indicating which companies are outperforming (or underperforming) their business segments. Broadcom benefited from solid performance in the set-top box business, helped by Blu-ray and digital TV products and the sale of digital converter boxes for the DTV conversion in the United States, Gartner said. Broadcom also fared well in Ethernet switches, broadband modem chips, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS.