updated 01:20 am EDT, Tue March 11, 2008
Apple Yet to Order Flash
Apple is sending worrying signs that it hasn't ordered any significant amounts of the NAND flash memory it needs, say some of its Asian manufacturers. Although the company bought as much as $1.3 billion in memory over 2007, it hasn't started large orders since 2008 began and is effectively forcing its suppliers to sell flash below cost due to oversupply. Even the MacBook Air, which needs a large 64GB of memory for its solid-state drive, isn't enough to help clear stock due to its high price and low volume, according to the reports.
However, Apple is believed to be designing an ultra-mobile PC using Intel's new Atom platform that would alleviate some of the overstock problems by using a large amount of slower but more ubiquitous multi-level cell (MLC) memory, such as that used in the iPhone and all iPods save for the hard drive-based iPod classic. Without a definite release date for the device, however, there is no indication as to whether Apple will have any meaningful impact on memory prices in the short term.
A lack of orders suggests that Apple does not expect high demand in the next few months, pushing any major releases that depend on flash memory closer to mid-year or later. The company in past years has often reserved its iPod updates for the late summer but has not yet established regular upgrade patterns for either the iPhone or the MacBook Air.
The company is considered one of the largest single purchasers of flash memory and primarily picks up supply from Hynix, Intel, Micron, and Samsung, though it's not clear which if any of these are reporting low orders from Apple or other manufacturers.