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Chip sales suffer from plunge in PCs, smartphones demand

Posted: 20 Jul 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Gartner? PC? smartphone? chip sales? Internet of Things?

"We will see a very high rate of 8bit and 16bit MCUs [in IoT] initially," said Gartner analyst Dean Freeman.

The gap between today's hype and tomorrow's real revenues is even greater in wearables such as the Apple Watch. New wearable devices are growing rapidly but have little silicon content and will add up to just one per cent of chip sales by 2019, said Gartner analyst Michelle Reitz.


Wearables will only account for one per cent of semiconductor revenues by 2019, Gartner forecasted.

Although wearables will grow to 500 million units in 2019 they will remain fairly simple in their silicon content. "A lot of the value is not in the hardware, it's in services," she said.

Meanwhile, China is shaking up the chip industry with promises to spend $20 billion of federal government funds to carve out a larger share of the pie. Ultimately, as much as $100 billion will be spent by federal, provincial and private investors, said Samuel Wang, Gartner's China analyst.

Unlike past efforts, the government money is "no longer a grant, now it's a fund that's asking for a return and M&A is a part of it, this is very different from before," said Allen Lu, president of the China branch of the SEMI trade group.

He noted central banks and traditional state-owned enterprises such as China Tobacco contributed to the government's $20 billion fund. That signals a desire to shift the China economy to more reliance on high tech, Lu said.

Little is known about just how much of that money will get spent and when. Reports Tsinghua Unigroup bid $23 billion to acquire Micron were rebuffed by a Micron representative who simply said the company had received no offer.

China has made great progress establishing its own capital equipment and materials companies in the past decade, Lu noted. However so far those companies all have a low single-digit market share and rely on Western companies for their key components and ingredients.

"These companies need to be significantly improved to be relevant," Lu said.

In the meantime, China's top mobile SoC maker has set up an office near its Taiwan rival MediaTek, seeking to attract talent. For its part, MediaTek has operations in San Diego near Qualcomm. "There's a chain reaction," said Gartner's Wang.

- Rick Merritt
??EE Times

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