Guess who’s buying most of the semiconductors? Yup, Apple.

According to a report published today by analyst firm Gartner, Apple has become the biggest buyer of semiconductors, surpassing Samsung and HP.

In 2011, Gartner estimates that Apple has purchased semiconductors (processors, flash storage, chips in general) for a total of $17.257 billion, an increase of $4.438 billion compared to 2010. The increase between 2009 and 2010 was $4.914 billion.

Gartner explains the dramatic increase like this:

Apple gained a much greater share of the smartphone market, and its media tablet business was also highly successful in 2011. While DRAM prices fell drastically in 2011, and many PC vendors decreased their total semiconductor demand accordingly, the success of the MacBook Air enabled Apple to increase semiconductor chip demand even in its PC business.

Apple has a constantly increasing demand for semiconductor products, especially for flash storage. Ever since it offered SSD options in the first iteration of the MacBook Air, it seemed clear that Apple would push for the fast adoption of this storage technology in all its devices. The recent purchase of Anobit reinforces this assumption, showing how crucial a constant supply of high quality semiconductors is to Apple.

Hat tip to PCWorld

Besides his current full-time job as a student of Sinology and Marketing at the University of Trier, Germany, Alex likes to read about technology and the businesses behind it. He also has a personal blog.