updated 03:05 pm EDT, Mon September 14, 2009
Apple triggers holiday 09 flash shortage
Apple's new iPods and other flash-based devices have sparked an industry-wide shortage in the NAND memory they use, unofficial industry contacts claimed today. Samsung, one of Apple's primary suppliers, is claimed by DigiTimes as having cut its supply of flash memory to Taiwan companies in half. Other companies are faring worse, as Hynix and Toshiba have only promised "limited supply" while Micron has simply said it has no spare supplies at all.
The shortage may also play into an increase in prices for short-notice orders of flash memory. Memory producers often raise per-chip prices during shortages to control demand.
No specific product is the most likely candidate for the shortage, though Apple's 32GB iPhone 3GS, as well as the 32GB and 64GB iPod touch, would consume the most in terms of sheer volume per unit. The deal for Chinese iPhones is also likely to affect the amount of memory needed as China Unicom has over 125 million existing customers and could require that Apple build many more iPhones than in the past.
As Apple is one of the world's largest individual customers for flash memory, it has instigated shortages in the past but rarely for multiple suppliers at once.