They were neck and neck in 2011, spending 18.6 and 18.8 billion on semiconductors worldwide, but a new Gartner report out today finds that Samsung has pulled ahead of Apple as the world's biggest chip buyer by a decent margin. According to the research group, Samsung's chip purchases shot up nearly 29 percent to $23.9 billion in 2012, or 8 percent of the worldwide market, while Apple's purchases rose 13.6 percent to $21.4 billion, or a share of 7.2 percent. Doing that math, that means the two companies account for over 15 percent of worldwide semiconductor purchases (or more than $45 billion), with each well ahead of runners-up HP, Dell and Sony, who stood at shares of 4.7, 2.9 and 2.7 percent for the year.
Despite the significant growth of those two leaders, though, overall semiconductor purchases actually dropped three percent in 2012 to a total of $297.6 billion. The biggest decline among the top ten companies? That would be Nokia, which fell from fifth to tenth place with chip purchases dropping a whopping 42.6 percent to five billion, compared to 8.6 billion in 2011.