Last year, semiconductor sales fell 2.3 percent to $334.8 billion, according Gartner's latest analysis of the chip market.
Collectively, the top 25 semiconductor vendor companies, which account for 73.5 percent of the market, experienced a half-percent drop in revenue. The rest suffered a 6.9 percent decline. "The worldwide semiconductor market declined in 2015 as slowing demand for key applications combined with strong currency fluctuations to subdue the market," observed Gartner research vice president Andrew Norwood.
While changes in demand patterns and various currency moves account for some of the loss, there were other major market forces at play that change the calculus a bit, argued Norwood.
"2015 semiconductor revenue results are skewed by the large amount of M&A activity during the year. If we adjust for this M&A activity by adding in revenue for 2015 and 2014 where necessary, then the performance is somewhat different: The top 25 vendors would have experienced a 1.7 percent revenue decline, and the rest of the market would have declined 3.9 percent," said Norwood in a statement.
Despite a 1.2 percent drop in revenue, Intel ruled the market in 2015 for the 24th consecutive year with $51.6 billion in chip sales and a 15.4 percent share of market. Second-place Samsung scored a healthy 9 percent jump in sales to $37.8 billion. The Korean electronics giant claimed 11.3 percent of the market in 2015.
Infineon Technologies was another big gainer. The company, known for its industrial and automotive electronics, climbed from twelfth to ninth place last year following a whopping 19.6 percent increase in sales to $6.8 billion.
Nestled in third place is SK Hynix on sales of $16.3 billion and a 4.9 percent share of the market. Fourth-place Qualcomm, a mobile chip maker, saw its fortunes fall 16.7 percent, from $19.2 billion in sales in 2014 to $16 billion last year.
Rounding out the top five is Micron. The memory and flash chip provider experienced a 15.1 percent decline in sales to $13.8 billion.
"2015 saw a mixed performance by the different device categories, unlike 2014 when all categories posted positive growth," said Norwood. "Non-optical sensors performed best due to increased usage of fingerprint sensors in smartphones, while discretes saw the strongest decline due to a mix of weak demand and currency issues."
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.