updated 10:00 am EDT, Fri April 27, 2007
Apple Flash Samsung Effect
Apple is pushing one of its instrumental flash memory suppliers to the breaking point, according to contacts within the memory industry. Those said to be close to talks between the iPod maker and electronics giant Samsung claim that Apple has ordered an exceptionally large number of NAND flash memory chips from the South Korean firm that the sources claim should cover all iPod and iPhone models for the second half of the year.
Causing the particular crisis is an order of between 400 to 500 million four gigabit (512MB) chips, the sources say. The quantity is allegedly 10 to 15 percent higher than Samsung had agreed to produce and may well push the company past what it can realistically manage in the given timeframe. Representatives are equally worried that the order could backfire and leave Samsung with more stock than it can sell if iPod or iPhone sales fall short.
No indication was made as to which particular Apple media players would use the Samsung memory order, but the same sources also claimed that fellow Korean semicondutor firm Hynix was under similar pressure. It reportedly had "barely enough" factory resources to fulfill larger memory orders for the summer.
While the reports have yet to be corroborated, they do reflect an increasing shift towards the use of flash in Apple's portable devices, including the upcoming iPhone. Samsung has also been readying 8GB flash chips that should allow larger-capacity players within the same timeframe as the claimed supply spike.