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AMD slips to fourth spot as Qualcomm and Samsung capitalize on mobile processor sales

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AMD shadow ceo rory read stock 1020
AMD shadow ceo rory read stock 1020

A fall in demand for desktop PCs and continued growth of the smartphone and tablet market saw AMD fall from second to fourth place for microprocessor sales in 2012. According to a new report from IC Insights, Qualcomm and Samsung overtook AMD to reach second and third spot respectively after they both posted year-on-year growth, thanks to increased sales of their ARM-based mobile processors. Intel continued to dominate the market — despite seeing a 1 percent decline last year.

Samsung has Apple to thank for its massive growth

In 2012, AMD's microprocessor sales slipped 21 percent to $3.605 billion. In contrast, Qualcomm's Snapdragon sales increased 28 percent to $5.3 billion over the year, while Samsung's mobile sales increased by 78 percent — with a little help from Apple. IC Insights says Apple's demand for its Samsung-fabricated processors accounted for around 83 percent of Samsung's $4.7 billion processor revenues in 2012.

Intel and AMD's declines mirror the rapid fall in demand for legacy PCs and hardware — in the first quarter of 2013 alone, PC sales saw "the steepest decline ever in a single quarter." In attempt to overcome this trend, AMD has said it will include ARM processors inside its x86 Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) later this year. While microprocessor sales growth slowed by 2 percent to reach $56.5 billion in 2012 (following a 19 percent rise in 2011), IC Insights believes the industry will rebound with 10 percent growth to $62 billion in 2013. Strong sales of mobile processors are expected to offset a 6 percent decline in sales for PC and server processors, as the industry grows to a projected $97.7 billion by 2017.