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China finished 2021 with 4% global semiconductor market share

US has over half the market, Japan is a tale of woe

China finished 2021 holding just four percent of global semiconductor market, research firm IC Insights stated on Tuesday.

That figure puts China at the bottom of the firm's lists, behind Japan's six percent share - down from 49 percent in the early 1990s.

The US tops IC Insights' charts with over half of the global market, followed by South Korea with 22 percent, Taiwan with nine percent and Europe with six percent. The research firm calculates those figures by considering market share across fabless IC companies and integrated design and manufacturing (IDM) concerns that both create and make silicon. The USA’s result reflects is strength in both categories, while South Korea, Europe and Japan rely mostly on manufacturers .

“Overall, US-headquartered companies show the most balance with regard to IDM, fabless, and total IC industry market share,” said IC Insights in a summary of its research. US companies may well continue to dominate, given massive subsidies offered to the industry to reflect its strategic importance.

The Middle Kingdom’s four percent is a combination of a nine percent share of fabless IC companies, but also reflects its dearth of fabs. The paltry shares suggest Beijing’s self-sufficiency drive is yet to make a dent. Back in October 2020, as Beijing set a goal to become technology self-sufficient by 2035.

The goal included having 70 percent of domestic total semiconductors needs met the Middle Kingdom by 2025, but as of February 2021 US sanctions were biting and only 5.9 percent of silicon was reportedly home grown.

Analyst firm Forrester reckons the current state of China’s zero-COVID strategy is not helping matters, and has predicted a market slow down for the Middle Kingdom.

While Beijing has invested billions of dollars into processor development and manufacturing infrastructure, the investment is yet to pay off, and results so far suggest the country is spinning its gears.

As of 2021, the dominant players in the chip game appear to be Asia-Pacific and North America, with the former’s IC sales market share, as a region, rising out of the ashes from four percent in 1990 to 34 percent as of 2021.

“This increase in share by the Asian IC suppliers equates to a 31-year IC sales CAGR of 15.9 percent, almost double the total IC market CAGR of 8.2 percent over this same time period,” said IC Insights.

Meanwhile, North America's share rose from 38 percent to 54 percent.®

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