SEOUL, Feb. 10 (Yonhap) — Samsung Electronics Co. remained the world’s second-largest chip buyer behind U.S. tech titan Apple Inc. last year, a report showed Wednesday, while manufacturers’ spending on semiconductors increased due to the pandemic-induced stay-at-home economy.

Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone and TV maker, accounted for 8.1 percent of global semiconductor spending in 2020 after purchasing US$36.4 billion worth of chips, up 20.4 percent from a year earlier, according to preliminary results from market researcher Gartner Inc.

“The company benefited from trends such as working from home and e-learning that drove demand for PCs and cloud servers in which many solid-state drives (SSDs) from Samsung are used,” Gartner said.

This file photo taken on Jan. 28, 2021, shows citizens with smartphones at Samsung Electronics Co.’s office building in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Apple was the top semiconductor buyer for the second straight year after its spending increased 24 percent on-year to $53.6 billion to represent 11.9 percent of the global market.

“Apple retained its position as the No. 1 global semiconductor customer in 2020, mainly due to the continued success of AirPods, special demand for Mac computers and iPads and increasing NAND flash consumption,” Gartner added.

Samsung, also the world’s top memory chip producer, was the leading semiconductor buyer between 2016 and 2018 before Apple overtook the position in 2019.

China’s Huawei Technologies Co. maintained the third spot, but its chip procurement plunged 23.5 percent on-year to $19 billion due to U.S. trade restrictions.

Gartner said global chip spending reached $449 billion in 2020, up 7.3 percent from a year earlier.

This photo taken on Nov. 20, 2020, shows Apple Inc.’s new smartphones, iPhone 12 mini (L), iPhone 12 (C) and iPhone Pro Max, displayed at a store in Seoul. (Yonhap)

“The pandemic weakened the demand for 5G smartphones and disrupted vehicle production, but drove the demand for mobile PCs and video games, as well as the investment in cloud data centers through 2020,” said Masatsune Yamaji, research director at Gartner. “Furthermore, a rise in memory prices in 2020 resulted in increased original equipment manufacturer (OEM) chip spending through the year.”

The top 10 chip buyers increased their spending by 10 percent in 2020, Gartner said, accounting for 42 percent of the total market, up from 40.9 percent in 2019.

China’s Xiaomi Corp. increased its spending the most among the top 10 companies last year as it purchased $8.7 billion worth of chips, up 26 percent from a year ago.