Global semiconductor sales up 6% in April

Despite sluggish revenue from memory devices, worldwide semiconductor sales in April jumped nearly 6% in April, coming in at US$21.2 billion.

The Semiconductor Industry Association reported Monday year-to-date sales of $82.9 billion, up 4.3% from the $79.5 billion in sales during the first four months of 2007.

"Despite steep increases in energy costs that have diminished the disposable income of consumers, worldwide sales of semiconductors grew by a healthy 5.9% compared to April 2007," said association president George Scalise. "Price attrition in memory products continued to dampen overall revenue growth for the industry. Excluding sales of memory devices, April semiconductor sales grew by more than 12% year-on-year. Unit sales of both DRAMs and NAND flash products were up significantly year-on-year, but price attrition resulted in a 14% decline in total sales of memory products."

Scalise noted that the market's two strongest drivers - personal computers and handsets - didn't fail to deliver in April, and will likely continue to deliver through the end of the year. "Unit sales of PCs are projected to grow by around 10% this year, while handset unit sales are forecasted to grow in the 12% range," he added. "Growth in these two important end-markets is increasingly driven by sales outside the United States."

These numbers come in about two months after an analyst at Gartner Inc. told Computerworld that the global semiconductor industry is in a slowdown that it may not come out of anytime soon, if ever.

Worldwide semiconductor revenue totaled $273.9 billion last year, up just 3.8% from 2006, according to a Gartner report. For an industry that's accustomed to double-digit growth, last year's numbers were noticeably low. However, it's a result that the industry may have to get used to, according to Gartner analyst Richard Gordon.

"Obviously, it's better than negative growth, but from a historic semiconductor view, it's not strong growth," Gordon said in a previous interview. "The market is in a low-single-digit growth phase. It's a concern. The high growth of the late '90s seems to be in the past now. I don't see anything on the horizon that will fuel growth in the near future. We're talking about long-term -- about forever."

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