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June 11, 2013


Communications IC Market Forecast to Exceed the Computer IC Market for the First Time in History in 2013

Total communications IC market expected to reach nearly $100 billion this year.

Surging smartphone shipments coupled with sluggish notebook computer sales are forecast to propel the total communications IC market past the total computer IC market for the first time in history this year, according to the recently released Update to IC Insights’ IC Market Drivers 2013—A Study of Emerging and Major End-Use Applications Fueling Demand for Integrated Circuits.

Figure 1 shows that the communications IC market is forecast to reach $99.4 billion in 2013, $1.4 billion higher than the $98.0 billion level expected for the computer IC market (it should be noted that the forecasts in the 2013 IC Market Drivers report extend to 2016).  As shown, the communications IC market is forecast to register a strong 2009-2013 CAGR of 16% as compared to only a 3% CAGR for the computer IC market over this same timeframe.

The total communications IC market is composed of ICs sold to manufacturers of both “wireless” and “wired” electronic systems.  In 2012, the total wireless communications IC market increased 3%, much better than the 4% decline for the total IC market.  Although the wired communications IC market reached $18.2 billion in 2012 and outgrew the wireless communications IC market by three percentage points, this segment was only about one-fourth the size of the $70.1 billion 2012 wireless communications IC market.

Although the total DRAM market declined by 11% in 2012, the wireless communications DRAM market increased by 14% last year.  Driven by strong sales of smartphones, cellphone DRAM bit usage significantly jumped in 2012.  Moreover, with DRAM ASPs firming, the wireless DRAM market is forecast to surge 25% this year.

While the wireless DRAM market is showing strong growth, flash is still the most prevalent memory type used in communications systems.  Moreover, 90% of the wireless communications flash memory usage is estimated to be for cellphones (primarily smartphones).  In 2013, the wireless communications flash market (mostly NAND flash) is expected to rebound with a 20% increase after registering only 1% growth in 2012.

Figure 1

Besides the small wireless SRAM market, the fastest growing wireless communications IC market in 2012 was the MPU segment, which includes cellphone application processors.  With strong growth in the smartphone portion of the cellphone market, booming sales of stand-alone application processors from companies such as Qualcomm and Broadcom are expected to drive the wireless MPU communications IC market to $16.8 billion in 2013, more than triple its size in 2009.

It is interesting to note that although the automotive IC market is forecast to show the same strong 16% 2009-2013 CAGR expected for the communications IC segment, it was only about one-fifth the size of the communications IC market last year.  In contrast to the fast-growing communications and automotive IC end-use markets, the consumer IC market is forecast to be 5% less in 2013 ($33.3 billion) than it was in 2009 ($35.2 billion).

Report Details:  IC Market Drivers 2013

IC Market Drivers 2013—A Study of Emerging and Major End-Use Applications Fueling Demand for Integrated Circuits examines the largest, existing system opportunities for ICs and evaluates the potential for new applications that are expected to help fuel the market for ICs.

IC Market Drivers is divided into two parts.  Part 1 provides a detailed forecast of the IC industry by system type, by region, and by IC product type through 2016.  In Part 2, the IC Market Drivers report examines and evaluates key existing and emerging end-use applications that will support and propel the IC industry through 2016.  Some of these applications include the automotive market, cellular phones (including smartphones), personal/mobile computing (including tablets and Ultrabooks), wireless networks, digital imaging, and a review of many applications to watch—those that may potentially provide significant opportunity for IC suppliers later this decade.  The 2013 IC Market Drivers report is priced at $3,190 for an individual-user license and $6,290 for a multi-user corporate license.

The IC Market Drivers subscription includes an Update that is released in the second quarter of the year.  This extensive Update to the main IC Market Drivers report is over 135 pages long and includes a full revision to Part 1 as well as the latest forecast information on the automotive, cellphone (including smartphones), PC (including tablets), digital TV, and wireless networking IC markets.

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