Apple this year is expected to buy nearly $28 billion worth of semiconductors, up 15 percent from $24 billion in 2011, according to an IHS iSuppli OEM Semiconductor Spend Analysis report from information and analytics provider IHS (NYSE: IHS). This means that Apple will dramatically outperform the No. 2 purchaser, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., allowing it to remain the world's top OEM semiconductor buyer-a position it has held since 2010.
"It's well known that Apple has already conquered the smartphone and tablet segments-but behind the scenes the company is engaging in another kind of conquest: the dominance of the electronics supply chain," said Myson Robles-Bruce, senior analyst for semiconductor spending and design activity at IHS. "Such a dominant position provides critical benefits, allowing one to dictate semiconductor pricing, control product roadmaps and obtain guaranteed supply and delivery. For Apple, these benefits translate into competitive advantages, letting it offer more advanced products at lower prices, faster and more reliably than the competition."
IHS iSuppli notes that Apple is positioned at No.1 among all chip buyers in the Asia-Pacific region, No. 2 in the Americas, and No. 6 in EMEA.
Apple is expected to come in second behind Cisco in the Americas in 2012. However, Apple is closing the gap, with Cisco expected to post a 5 percent decrease in semiconductor buying in 2012. Still, Cisco holds a more than $1 billion lead over Apple is U.S. chip purchasing.