Market Watch

A Most Memorable Year for Mobile Memory

New products and a solid recovery enable a decent year for suppliers

February 01, 2010

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The year 2009 will go down in history as one of the most memorable ever for the ash and mobile memory market.

While not a great year, it certainly wasn’t as bad as everyone thought it was going to be, and toward the end, confidence in the market and optimism for the future was the order of the day.

For NAND flash memory, a much-welcomed recovery in the second quarter of 2009 wiped away many of the memories of the disastrous fourth quarter of 2008 and first quarter of 2009. By the third quarter of 2009, NAND suppliers were back in the black. And with abundant volume, the focus of suppliers returned to growing the business rather than just on pure survival.

New Memories
The top product news of 2009 was in Phase Change Memory (PCM), with a joint development between Samsung and Numonyx allowing for common hardware and software compatibility between both companies’ PCM products, alleviating sole-source concerns. Serial NOR (SPI) also witnessed high adoption rates in 2009 and even reach 41 percent of overall NOR shipments for the year. Meanwhile, high-end Multichip Packages (MCPs) received a boost from smart phones as densities increased to 5Gbit, which became one of the sweet-spot densities.

Looking Ahead
Compared to 2009, iSuppli predicts that 2010 will be relatively uneventful. Given the lingering fears of a double-dip recession, capacity expansions will be kept in check, and suppliers will roll out additional capacity at a slow pace in order not to jeopardize the recovery. If first-quarter results are not promising for mobile memory, added capacity could be held in place for much longer.

There won’t be many changes for the NOR flash market as it continues to get squeezed by SPI on the low-density side and by NAND in mobile applications. Speaking of NAND, iSuppli believes a generally healthy environment will propel both revenue and unit shipment growth year-on-year, with a decline in ASP limited to 25.8 percent, a relatively low level of erosion on a historical basis.

Read More, 2009 - A Year of Surprises >

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