IC Insights has published its list of the top semiconductor sales leaders for the first half of 2013, and observed that only one Japan-based firm stayed among the top-10.
"The list showed the usual big-time players that we've come to expect like Intel, Samsung and TSMC," IC Insights said. "What stood out nearly as much, however, was that only one Japanese company - Toshiba - was present among the top 10 suppliers through the first half of 2013."
In 1985 when Japan-based semiconductor manufacturers wielded their influence on the global stage, there were five Japan-based companies ranked among the top 10 semiconductor suppliers, IC Insights noted. In 1990, six Japan-based companies were counted among the top 10 semiconductor suppliers - a figure that has not been matched by any country or region since, IC Insights indicated.
However, the number of Japan-based companies ranked in the top 10 in semiconductor sales slipped to four in 1995, then fell to three in 2000 and 2006, two in 2012, and then to only one company in the first half of 2013, IC Insights noted.
It is worth noting that Renesas, Sony and Fujitsu were ranked among the top 25 semiconductor suppliers in the first half of 2013, but Sony has been struggling to reinvent itself and Fujitsu has spent the first half of 2013 divesting most of its semiconductor operations, IC Insights said.
Japan's total presence and influence in the semiconductor marketplace has waned, IC Insights pointed out. Once-prominent Japanese names now gone from the top suppliers list include NEC, Hitachi, Mitsubishi and Matsushita. Competitive pressures from South Korean IC suppliers - especially in the DRAM market - have certainly played a significant role in changing the look of the top 10. "Samsung and SK Hynix emulated and perfected the Japanese manufacturing model over the years and cut deeply into sales and profits of Japanese semiconductor manufacturers, resulting in spin-offs, mergers, and acquisitions becoming more prevalent among Japanese suppliers," IC Insights said.
Another reason for Japan's reduced presence among leading global semiconductor suppliers is that the vertically-integrated business model that served Japan-based companies so well for so many years is not nearly as effective in Japan today, IC Insights observed. Due to the closed nature of the vertically-integrated business model, Japan-based electronic systems manufacturers lost market share to global competitors. As a result, Japan-based semiconductor suppliers missed out on some major design win opportunities for their chips in many of the best-selling consumer, computer and communications systems that are now driving semiconductor sales.