Prices of NAND flash memory -- the stuff used in Apple's
iSuppli says that inventories are declining and that the low pricing will cause people to toss a flash memory card or two in their shopping carts next to the German chocolate cake and potato chips while stocking up at Wal-Mart
Gartner, meanwhile, issued a much more bullish forecast. Gartner expects Apple to introduce a new flash-based iPod later this year with a capacity of 10 to 12 gigabytes. This is a lot higher capacity than the current top-of-the-line iPod nano at four gigabytes. Gartner says that a new iPod with such a high storage capacity will drive the NAND flash market into shortage, similar to what happened in 2005.
Naturally, not everyone feels so good about the prospects of the NAND flash market. NAND flash production is expected to triple this year compared with 2005, and, as yet, there's no killer app to suck up all the extra memory chips (the new iPod will have to be it).
Unfortunately, a bust in the NAND market -- if it happens -- would extend beyond NAND flash manufacturers like SanDisk
NAND flash is making its way into many new devices, some of which I believe will greatly increase demand for flash memory over time, but probably not fast enough to help out this year. So, for now, it looks to me (and Gartner, apparently) that the world's NAND flash makers are counting on one product from one company to rush out and save them from the NAND flash flood they've created.
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