Chip sales stayed steady in December 2009, although there were some anomalies, particularly on the NAND flash front.

Apple iPhone, image from apple.comCarnegie Securities Research (CSR), using WSTS figures, said that worldwide sales of chips rose to $23.5 billion, a jump of 48 percent year on year.

Bruce Diesen, an analyst at CSR, observed there was a rush to ship products in time for Christmas in October, with sales softer in November and December 2009.

PC CPU sales were strong - a fact reflected in Intel and AMD's most recent results.

Diesen said that second tier handset makers in mainland China reduced buying NAND memory in December. He also thinks Apple obtained a pricing concession.

He said: "The NAND drop was one of the big surprises of Q4 and may help explain the disappointment about Sandisk's outlook." DRAM chips fell in December, despite Windows 7, and that may be due to shortages.

CSR thinks that iPhone chip orders peaked in October and fell after that. That estimate is based on speciality handset chips used in smartphones to sense whether displays are landscape or portrait.