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Article updated: 1/23/2013 7:49 AM

Samsung surpasses Apple as biggest chip buyer

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Samsung Electronics Co. surpassed Apple Inc. as the world's biggest buyer of semiconductors last year because of demand for its smartphones and tablet computers, according to Gartner Inc.

Samsung's chip purchases surged 29 percent to $23.9 billion in 2012, the Stamford, Connecticut-based research company said in a statement today, citing its own estimates. Apple's semiconductor spending rose 14 percent to $21.4 billion, it said.

The Korean company is buying more chips as its wider range of mobile devices helps it outsell Apple in markets from the U.S. to China. Samsung's strength in phones and tables also let it avoid a slump in PC demand that caused global chip sales to fall 3 percent last year to $297.6 billion, according to Gartner.

Six of the top 10 chip buyers cut spending last year because of the computer-sales slowdown, Gartner said. Third- ranked Hewlett-Packard Co. pared expenditure 13 percent to $14 billion, while fourth-placed Dell Inc. cut spending by a similar proportion to $8.6 billion. Sony Corp. rose to fifth in the rankings from eighth after boosting spending 1.9 percent to $7.9 billion.

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