New York - Driven by the success of the iPhone and iPad, Apple has become the world's largest buyer of chips for computers and phones, a research firm said on Wednesday.
Apple bought $17.5 billion worth of chips last year, surpassing computer maker Hewlett-Packard as the largest consumer, IHS iSuppli said. That was an increase of 80 percent from the year before, reflecting Apple's continuing sales surge.
An iPhone contains about $80 (about R560) worth of chips, according to iSuppli. The chips include the central processor that acts as the brains of the device, radio chips that let it talk to cell towers and the audio chip that converts the owner's voice into a stream of data.
The finding that Apple is the No. 1 buyer cements its standing as a company that has the clout, and the cash, to buy chips and other crucial components such as touchscreens when other companies struggle because of supply constraints.
As an example, Apple said in January that it had spent $3.9 billion on long-term contracts to secure supplies for the next two years of a “very strategic” component it wouldn't name. Few other companies are able to commit that much money.