Bloomberg Taipei

Samsung Electronics surpassed Apple as the biggest buyer of semiconductors last year because of demand for its smartphones and tablet computers, according to research company Gartner.

Samsung’s chip purchases surged 29 percent to $23.9 billion (R211.4bn) in 2012, Gartner said yesterday, citing its own estimates. Apple’s semiconductor spending climbed 14 percent to $21.4bn, it added.

The South Korean company is buying more chips as its wider range of mobile devices helps it outsell Apple in markets from the US to China. Samsung’s strength in phones and tables also let it avoid a slump in personal computer demand that caused global chip sales to fall 3 percent last year to $297.6bn, according to Gartner.

Six of the top 10 chip buyers cut spending last year because of the computer sales slowdown, Gartner said. Third-ranked Hewlett-Packard pared expenditure by 13 percent to $14bn, while fourth-placed Dell cut spending by a similar proportion to $8.6bn. Sony rose to fifth in the rankings from eighth after boosting spending 1.9 percent to $7.9bn.