Apple’s Half-Billion Dollar NAND Binge
Apple’s voracious appetite for NAND flash RAM has proven a boon to Toshiba. Discussing Apple’s latest earnings on a conference call with analysts Tuesday, company COO Tim Cook revealed that Apple and Toshiba have inked a flash memory deal worth half a billion dollars.
“We did a long-term supply agreement with Toshiba,” Cook explained. “As a part of that, as part of the terms and conditions, we paid them $500 million as a pre-pay earlier in the quarter. You know, we view Flash as a very key component for us because as you know we use it in so much on so many of our products and also we are a reasonable percentage of the user of Flash on a worldwide basis.”
Indeed, Apple (AAPL) sells millions of NAND flash-enabled devices each year, so many that its needs often constrain supply for the entire market. In 2005, the company arranged to purchase up to 40 percent of Samsung Electronics’ holiday NAND output for use in it iPods. In July of last year Apple bought 50 million 8Gb-equivalent NAND flash chips from Samsung, forcing the company to reduce its supply to other customers.
Then, this past April, Apple ordered 100 million 8Gb–or one-gigabyte (1GB)–chips from Samsung, once again causing flash supplies to tighten. Now we have this $500 million prepayment, which, according to sources, will keep Apple in NAND for about three months.
Great news for Toshiba, which has been suffering mounting losses in the midst of tougher competition, and for the NAND market as well. As Tim Cook said yesterday, “The NAND market has now begun to stabilize and we expect it to move towards a supply/demand balance.”