The global market for higher-end mobile devices is showing signs of softening, according to a recent Gartner report.
The research giant has projected an 8.5 per cent decline in the worldwide spend on semiconductor manufacturing kit to $34.6bn (£21.5bn) this year as a result of a slowing in the premium mobile device market.
However, according to Gartner, this deceleration, which may feed through to other areas of the IT industry as well, is expected to be short term. Total capital spending will decrease 6.8 per cent in 2013, due to a diminishing investment in the 28-nanometer processors used in mobile phones.
Dean Freeman, research vice president at Gartner, said the weak semiconductor market conditions that continued into the first quarter of 2013 generated downward pressure on new equipment purchases.
"However, semiconductor equipment quarterly revenue is beginning to improve, and positive movement in the book-to-bill ratio indicated that spending for equipment will pick up in the remainder of 2013.
"Looking beyond 2013, we expect that the current economic malaise will have worked its way through the industry, and spending will follow a generally increasing pattern in all sectors throughout the rest of the forecast period," Freeman said in a statement put out by Gartner.
The slowdown on 28-nm purchases is projected to continue into the fourth quarter, although spending on memory has picked up some of the slack and total second-half spend should exceed that of the first half of 2013, he indicated.
Capital spending is concentrated in a handful of companies. Intel, TSMC and Samsung account for more than half of the spend in 2013, and the top five semiconductor manufacturers account for 65 per cent of the total.
Next year, though, Gartner believes that semiconductor spend will rise 14.1 per cent. In 2015, the market will only grow 13.8 per cent – a feature of a current cyclical decline that repeats every few years.
Freeman said the wafer fab equipment picture is currently one of continuous quarterly growth as major manufacturers emerge from a period of high inventories and weakness in the semiconductor market.
The figures come from Gartner's report Forecast: Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment, Worldwide, 3Q13 Update.
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