Electronic Design

iSuppli: NAND Flash Slowdown in 2008

Research firm iSuppli has cut its outlook for global NAND flash revenue growth in 2008 from 27 percent to the single-digit range. Revenue is expected to rise only marginally from 2007's $13.9 billion. The firm says weak consumer spending has led to order reductions that are hitting NAND flash suppliers. NAND flash is used heavily in consumer electronics, but consumer confidence has taken a dive because of the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis. "Unless the economy recovers vigorously later this year, last year’s DRAM market disaster could be repeated in NAND this year," Nam Hyung Kim, director and chief analyst of memory for iSuppli, said in a statement. A particularly troubling sign was Apple Inc's significant slash of its 2008 NAND order forecast, according to iSuppli. Apple told suppliers that its demand growth will slow in 2008 compared to 2007. Since Apple was the world's third-largest OEM buyer of NAND flash memory in 2007, iSuppli expects this will have a huge impact on the NAND market. Slower NAND demand will also have a major impact on suppliers’ finances. Suppliers' capital spending on NAND production will rise by more than 20 percent this year to ensure availability of parts. This will cause prices to decrease, however, and iSuppli believes that NAND prices are already well-below suppliers’ actual costs. "NAND suppliers are likely to go into the red in the first quarter, and are not likely to recover in the second," Kim said. Some suppliers, like Samsung, Hynix, and Micron, can switch to DRAM production when NAND conditions worsen. But iSuppli predicts a poor year for DRAM as well, with revenue increasing by only 4 percent in 2008. In 2007, NAND flash memory revenue grew by 12.5 percent to reach $13.9 billion.

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