Samsung overtakes Apple as top chip customer globally

At this time last year, Apple claimed the top spot of the world's largest semiconductor customer, but it looks like they'll be handing the crown to someone else this year, specifically Samsung, who now holds the throne this time around. According to research firm Gartner, Samsung bought more chips than any other company in 2012.

Both Samsung and Apple spent $45.3 billion combined on semiconductors in 2012, which is up $7.9 billion from a year ago. Plus, both companies account for 15.2% of the total chip market. Samsung maintains 8% of the chip market, while Apple has a hold of 7.2% of the market. Rounding out the top five are HP (4.7%), Dell (2.9%), and Sony (2.7%), with Lenovo, Toshiba, LG, and Nokia straggling behind.

The top 10 largest customers of semiconductors combined for 36% of the worldwide chip market, which totals at $297.6 billion for the entire semiconductor market globally. Samsung's semiconductor spending rose 29% from a year ago to $23.9 billion, while Apple also spent more, with a 14% increase to $21.4 billion.

Masatsune Yamaji, principal research analyst at Gartner, says that the PC market "represented the largest sector for chip demand." However, he notes that desktops and laptops have not been selling well, citing that "consumers' interest shifted to new mobile computing devices like smartphones and media tablets." Yamaji says that the shift to mobile devices have caused a "substantial decrease in semiconductor demand in 2012." Six out of the top 10 chip customers saw a decrease in demand last year.