By Kim Yoo-chul
In component-related businesses, securing big buyers is a critical factor to boost corporate earnings and to maintain healthy sustainability.
The other way around is also true since finished product makers need reliable suppliers.
This rule applies especially to Samsung Electronics as well as its big buyers ― the world's top manufacturer in both computer memory chips and flat-screens.
In an analysis to review Samsung's first quarter performances, Japan's Sony was its biggest buyer, followed by Apple and Dell of the United States.
The second tier in Samsung's overseas buyers include Hewlett-Packard, Verizon Wireless and AT&T ― all American companies, according to earnings reports released by Samsung.
For the first quarter this year, the Tokyo-based Sony accounted for 3.7 percent of Samsung's total sales.
Sony bought 1.28 trillion won ($1 billion) worth of components from its biggest Korean rival.
Samsung reported 34.6 trillion won in first quarter sales.
Sony has been acquiring flat panels used in everything from televisions to mobile phones from its joint venture with Samsung since July 2004.
Sony has been known to purchase DRAM chips and flash-type memory devices from Samsung.
DRAMs are widely used in traditional PCs, while flash-type chips go into smartphones as the chips are able to store data while the battery is dead.
"Sony is expected to buy over 5 trillion won worth of Samsung's components by the end of this year as it is heavily betting on 3D televisions, smartphones and other LCD-embedded products amid the rising consumer demand," a Samsung Electronics executive said, Wednesday.
Hong Ji-eun, a representative of Sony's Korean branch declined to comment.
According to reports, the California-based consumer electronics company Apple ranked the second-biggest buyer.
Apple attributed to nearly 2.6 percent or some 900 billion won of Samsung's first quarter sales.
Samsung is supplying flash-type chips to be used in Apple's iPhones, while the top memory chip vendor also provides application processors or APs ― the parts which function as the "brain" in controlling the whole system ― for iPhones and iPads.
Apple sold 8.75 million units of iPhones during the first quarter, globally, while it reached the 2 million sales mark in iPads in two months since its introduction, according to industry data.
"Samsung will sell over 60 million units of application processors to Apple this year alone. Continued and optimistic expected sales of iPhones and iPads will help Samsung's semiconductor division increase its cash-balance sheets," another industry executive said.
Steve Park, a representative of Apple's Korean branch declined to comment.
Dell, Hewlett-Packard follow
Dell, which sells PCs via a unique direct selling scheme, spent about 870 billion won at the Samsung Electronics supercenter in the last quarter.
The U.S computer maker emptied its wallet to contribute 2.5 percent to Samsung's gains.
Like Sony and Apple, Dell buys DRAMs and flat-panels for monitors.
The invoice for Hewlett-Packard totaled 760 billion won for components, contributing 2.2 percent to Samsung's total sales, ordering the same products as Dell.
Telecommunication carriers aren't the exception.
Verizon Wireless and AT&T bought a combined total of 1 trillion won worth of handsets from Samsung. Samsung is the world's second largest manufacturer of mobile phones only after Finland-based handset giant Nokia.
A Samsung spokesman Shin Young-june declined to give more financial details and refused to release more information about its relationship with clients.
The industry executive did say, however, "Overall, Samsung will do better in the component business. By putting more resources to enhance technologies to thereby produce more advanced components, we are positive about getting more and consistent orders from bigger clients."