The iPhone and competing mobile gadgets are chewing up stock of NAND flash memory, which will lead to shorter supply and higher revenue for NAND manufacturers this year, according to a report Wednesday from iSuppli.
Thanks to the popularity of the iPhone and the launch of a slew of other portable gadgets, the number of mobile handsets with NAND flash memory will rise 13.8 percent this year to 732 million units from 643 million last year. The growth rate was 1.6 percent in 2008, said iSuppli.
NAND, a type of nonvolatile memory that retains its data even when the device is powered off, is commonly used in cell phones, MP3 players, USB drives, and memory cards. It is also found in solid-state storage drives, which are increasingly being used in notebooks. NAND stands for "not and" and describes the type of logic circuit used in these chips.
Apple has traditionally been one of the industry's heaviest users of NAND. Recently, one analyst said he'd heard estimates that about 20 percent to 30 percent of the world's NAND supply goes to Apple. The company has also cut deals with NAND suppliers such as Toshiba to prepay for more flash memory than it currently needs in anticipation of rising prices.
Combine the 35.2 gigabytes of NAND used in each iPhone with the fact that iPhone shipments are likely to hit 33 million this year, and the industry is facing periods of NAND undersupply this year, noted iSuppli. Such demand is good news for manufacturers and suppliers, who may see global NAND flash sales rise to $18.1 billion this year, up 34 percent, from $13.5 billion last year. In 2009, revenue was up 14.8 percent.… Read more