In 2010, Apple surpassed HP and all other equipment manufacturers to become the world's largest consumer of semiconductor technology, largely because of the popularity of its mobile devices. That year, Apple purchased $17.5 billion worth of semiconductors compared to $9.7 billion in 2009.
Apple's recent acquisition of Israel-based solid-state drive (SSD) manufacturer Anobit Technologies will give the company a significant technological boost in the mobile market, and could yield huge cost savings.
According to IHS iSuppli, Apple's iPad in 2011 accounted for a whopping 78% of global gigabyte shipments of NAND flash for use in media tablets. That was down from 92% in 2010, when it had the market largely to itself for most of the year.
Despite an uptick by competitors this year, Apple will continue to dominate tablet NAND purchasing in 2012, with a 72% share of flash gigabyte shipments. By 2015, Apple will continue to account for a majority of tablet NAND purchasing, at 58%, according to IHS iSuppli.
Apple last week unveiled a new iPad with a higher-resolution screen and 4G LTE wireless capabilities. That model is due to arrive in retail stores on Friday, March 16, and pre-orders have already sold out .
"Apple's continued domination of the sales of NAND flash for media tablets reflects not only the iPad's commanding market share lead, but its extensive memory usage," Dee Nguyen, a memory analyst at HIS, said in a statement. "The iPad employs a larger density of NAND than its competitors. Because of this, Apple's iPad will continue to drive the growth of NAND sales in the tablet market for the next several years."
While the iPad may be leading the market for NAND consumption, its appetite for the other major type of semiconductor memory, DRAM, has been more restrained.