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Samsung Electronics returns to the top spot in the world semiconductor market for the first time in three years, according to Gartner. Photo courtesy of Samsung Electronics

Tech giant nudges past Intel for 1st time in 3 years

Samsung Electronics beat Intel last year to reclaim the top spot in the global semiconductor market for the first time in three years, according to business tracker Gartner on April 16.

Samsung Electronics’ 2021 revenue went up 28 percent to $73.2 billion from 2020, thus accounting for 12.3 percent of the market.

By contrast, Intel saw its 2021 revenue decrease 0.3 percent to $72.5 billion year-on-year. As a result, its market share was slightly lower than Samsung’s at 12.2 percent.

Samsung’s cross-town rival SK hynix took third place with $36.4 billion, chased by U.S. corporations Micron Technology with $28.6 billion, and Qualcomm with $27.1 billion.

Last year, memory chip prices remained high, benefiting their manufacturers, according to Garner. Samsung is the world’s largest memory chip maker, while SK hynix is the No. 2 player.

“South Korea had the largest increase in market share in 2021 as strong growth in the memory market propelled South Korea to garner 19.3 percent of the global semiconductor market.” Gartner Vice President Andrew Norwood noted.

Meanwhile, Chinese corporations’ market share plunged last year due to the U.S. sanctions against Huawei and its subsidiary HiSilicon. The latter’s sales plunged more than 80 percent year-on-year.

Samsung on Seoul bourse

Despite the solid performance, the share price of Samsung Electronics headed down throughout this year on the South Korean stock exchange.

Observers are split into two opposing camps regarding the prospect of Korea’s biggest company.

Optimists expect that Samsung’s high bottom lines will eventually boost its market value, while pessimists worry about the uncertainties of the DRAM market beyond next year.

Eugene Investment & Securities analyst Lee Seung-woo appears to be neutral about Samsung’s future share price.

“Experiences tell us that the rising interest rates typically led to the better DRAM demand. And the DRAM market is expected to be good this year,” Lee said.

“But things are not certain for next year. I don’t think we can be optimistic about next year’s DRAM market.”

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The publisher studied Korean history in Seoul and management of business administration in the United Kingdom. He has 20-year experiences in the media business. Kim can be reached at voc200@gmail.com or 82-2-6956-6698.