Anyone who plays sports knows the exhilaration and utter joy of watching your opponents build up a glimmer of hope, right before you crush their spirits and beat them back to reality. Michael Jordan did it all the time, and if there's an equivalent in the tech industry, it has to be Intel, the world's largest chip maker and by far the most dominant player on the court at this point in its career.
For the past three years, Intel has watched its market share come under attack by "aggressive competition from Samsung," but just like when Jordan shoved Utah's Bryon Russell out of the way to sink a buzzer beater and win the 1998 NBA Finals, Intel is in the process of dismissing Samsung and will end the year with $49.7 billion worth of semiconductors, up an astonishing 23 percent from 2010, IHS iSuppli says.
Like the Utah Jazz in 1998, Samsung actually had a shot at overtaking Intel, but it would have required a misstep by the Santa Clara chip maker, and a greater effort on Samsung's part, which is on pace to grow its market share by 3 percent in 2011.
"In a challenging year for the semiconductor market, Intel achieved success on all fronts, expanding its core microprocessor and memory businesses, while also capitalizing on a major acquisition," said Dale Ford, Head of Electronics & Semiconductor Research at IHS iSuppli. "This allowed the company to outgrow the market and expand its lead over its closest competitors, defying the impact of weak economic conditions and catastrophic natural disasters in Japan and Thailand."
It will be interesting to see Intel and Samsung duke it out in 2012, as only 6.5 percentage points will separate them.