updated 02:55 pm EDT, Mon May 17, 2010
EU may make firms take plea to avoid huge fines
The European Union is about to fine nine companies a total of $370 million for allegedly fixing pricing on flash memory, leaks revealed on Monday. Samsung, Hynix, Toshiba and six other major companies are being pressed to admit to colluding on high prices in exchange for seeing a 10 percent drop in the fines levied against each company. An NYT contact believed a ruling could come as soon as Wednesday.
Micron, which had been implicated as part of the group, may have been given immunity in return for testifying against its partners.
Similar complaints had been launched in Korea and the US but were eventually dismissed as the agencies hadn't found evidence of the claims. A confession by Micron and the rest of the group would potentially challenge those verdicts.
A fine and a change in policies could both have a significant impact on flash memory pricing and consequently the prices of the devices that use them. Prices have fallen regularly on flash memory in the past several years, but price fixing would imply that the costs could have fallen lower. Apple is usually considered the single largest user of flash memory and depends on it in not just the iPhone, iPad and iPod but also the solid-state drives in MacBooks and certain Xserves.