International semiconductor manufacturing equipment sales declined by almost a third in 2002, according to the latest research.
Analyst firm Gartner said that sales, excluding test equipment, totalled $18.5bn (£12bn) in 2002, a drop of 30.4 per cent from 2001.
"The dire outcome of 2002 was the result of slower than anticipated end-user demand and increasing macroeconomic uncertainty that hit semiconductor vendors rapidly in the second half of 2002," said Klaus-Dieter Rinnen, vice president at Gartner's semiconductor research group.
"Consequently, spending plans were adjusted downwards, projects were delayed or shelved, and equipment orders were either pushed out or cancelled."
The analyst said that all major segments were affected in 2002 by the industry decline.
Electrochemical deposition and low-density plasma deposition fared better than most segments, only declining 11.2 per cent and 8.1 per cent respectively.
Gartner found that the market was kinder to companies in hot technology segments such as lithography and photomasking, copper interconnect, factory automation, contact probes, flip chips, and interconnect bonding in general.
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