No doubt about it, Apple has undergone a spectacular transformation from underdog to industry top dog. Not only is it the second highest-valued company in the world; IHS iSuppli now reports that Apple was also the biggest buyer of semiconductor chips among the world's hardware makers last year.
According to the market research firm, Apple's semiconductor purchases totaled $17.5 billion in 2010, a 79.6% increase from the previous year, putting the company ahead of HP, Samsung, and Dell. This is no fluke, either. IHS iSuppli notes that Apple is exhibiting the "highest rate of increase among the world's Top 10 OEM semiconductor buyers," and it expects the company to outspend HP by a whopping $7.5 billion this year.
Naturally, much of Apple's semiconductor spending growth has to do with the runaway success of the iPhone and iPad. It's worth pointing out that Mac sales are also nothing to scoff at, since their growth keeps outpacing the overall PC industry. AllThingsD reported earlier this week that Mac shipments have outgrown PC shipments for 19 consecutive quarters. (Apple's share of the overall PC market is still a relatively small one, though.)