Winners in an Otherwise Gloomy Chip Report

Worldwide semiconductor revenue dipped 5.4 percent in 2008 to $255 billion, according to the final market share analysis for 2008 released by Gartner on Wednesday. Like other market research firms that have looked at the events of the past year, the first two quarters were ok, the third quarter got shaky and the fourth quarter was hell.

“While sales held up fairly well in the first half of 2008, in the third quarter the industry started to soften as the economy slowed, and by the fourth quarter sales were deteriorating quickly, causing revenue growth to go into negative territory,” said Peter Middleton, principal research analyst at Gartner, in a statement.

Gartner looked at 275 semiconductor suppliers in 65 separate product categories and eight major market categories. Its numbers pretty much line up with the iSuppli numbers released last week.

As such, Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) held the number one position for the 17th consecutive year, with an increase in market share but a decline in revenue by 0.5 percent. The revenue dip came from spinning off its NOR flash memory business as a separate company, Numonyx.

“The company outperformed the industry average due to the strong performance of its notebook business in which the company gained share throughout the year,” according to Gartner.

In second place was Samsung, which suffered a 15 percent decline in revenue thanks to continuing weakness in the price of memory. Samsung is the largest memory maker in the world. Toshiba, at number three on Gartner’s list, fell 10.3 percent due to its heavy dependence on the consumer electronics market, which took a beating in the second half of 2008.

Fourth place went to Texas Instruments and fifth place went to STMicroelectronics.

The best performer in Gartner’s top 10 list was Qualcomm, which grew 15.3 percent on the strength of sales growth, instead of acquisitions, as many firms did in 2008. However, it too fell off in the fourth quarter as carriers and OEMs reduced their inventory of handsets and chipsets.

Broadcom was the best performer of 2008 in Gartner’s “Relative Industry Performance” metric, which measures how well the company did against its own industry. In other words, Broadcom outpaced all of its competitors. It benefited from growth in the set-top box business, HDTV players and Blu-ray players.

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