Samsung's time atop the semiconductor market was short-lived. The company managed to overtake Intel as the market leader in 2017, but according to an IC Insights report published earlier this week, the processor-maker has retaken its throne even though its worldwide sales actually declined between 2018 and 2019.
IC Insights said that Intel sold roughly $69.88 million worth of semiconductors in 2018; it's expected to sell $69.83 million in 2019. That amounts to a 0% change, according to the research firm, which is actually far better than the 29% decline that Samsung is expected to experience due to weak demand for its memory products.
We already knew that Samsung was struggling because the company's quarterly profits have been 50 to 60% lower year-over-year throughout all of 2019. Some of that was caused by weak demand for its smartphones, but it was mostly attributed to the memory market's decline, which has affected both NAND and DRAM suppliers.
Gartner actually predicted in April that Samsung's decline would lead to Intel reclaiming the semiconductor market, and IC Insights made a similar claim just a month later. Now the research firm has confirmed that Intel's finished its two-year stint as the runner-up to once again lead the market. IC Insights explained:
Intel was the number one ranked semiconductor supplier in 1Q17 but lost its lead spot to Samsung in 2Q17. It also fell from the top spot in the full-year 2017 ranking, a position it had held since 1993. With the strong surge in the DRAM and NAND flash markets in 2018, Samsung went from having 7% more total semiconductor sales than Intel in 2017 to having 12% more semiconductor sales than Intel in 2018. However, with a forecasted 34% drop in the memory market this year, Intel is once again expected to rank as the largest semiconductor supplier and have sales that are 26% larger than Samsung in 2019.
Samsung wasn't alone in its decline. IC Insights said that six of the top 15 semiconductor companies--Samsung, SK Hynix, Micron, Toshiba, Nvidia and Qualcomm--were expected to have double-digit sales declines in 2019. Only three companies (Sony, TSMC and MediaTek) were expected to see any kind of growth.