To judge by some of the headlines, the computer world seems about ready to be turned upside-down by the more widespread use of the memory you're used to stuffing in your cell phone or camera.
NAND flash is familiar to us all, but it's only now poised to make the big leap from gadgets to computers, and where it lands is still entirely up for grabs.
The end goal of most of the current NAND-related projects is to try to reduce power consumption, especially in laptops, by replacing some or all of a hard disk drive's function with NAND flash. By dropping frequently used bits of operating system into flash, which requires little power and operates more quickly than a hard drive, the hope is that laptop juice will last longer and performance will increase. Now, according to some data I've seen, the performance increases from reducing hard drive use are not nearly so great as the flash touters would have us believe, but let's not let that get in the way of a good story, and a good way to persuade everyone to buy yet another laptop next year.
Everyone's got a finger in this pie. As I've discussed in the past, Intel
As you remember, Apple
Word to the wise -- recent widespread reports that Vista would require laptop makers such as Hewlett-Packard
To get back to the what's-in-it-for-me angle, despite the angry letters I've gotten from rabid SanDisk
None of this is to suggest that you shouldn't invest in the flash space. I still hold shares of SanDisk because I believe that the uses for NAND, including the cheaper MLC variety, will ramp up and make the stock a winner for some time to come. But the story isn't as simple as the headlines might suggest. Don't fall for the tale of the next big thing until you know what's next for the thing, and who's big in the space.
Seth Jayson often wonders how many tech investors can tell a memory chip from a potato chip. At the time of publication, he had shares of SanDisk and Microsoft but no positions in any other company mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.