Believe it: Some of the most significant storage stories of the coming year will involve NAND flash. So much new data is being stuffed into those little solid-state drives on iPhones, Blackberries, cell phones, and other devices that the media is becoming more strategic for companies and individuals virtually every day.
It holds a lot of files, it's easily portable, and it's reliable. No moving parts. Little energy needed. Hard to beat all that.
Leading the way for all this, of course, is Apple's iPhone, which uses more flash memory than most devices and is selling 90,410 units per day. That's right: about 90K every 24 hours. Somebody's making a more than a few bucks on that thing.
It's been estimated that the iPhone alone is sucking up nearly 40 percent of the entire flash supply at this time. In fact, so many flash drives will be fabricated that it will "strain supplies for the year," according to industry analyst iSuppli Corp. of El Segundo, Calif.
"An average of 35.2GB of NAND will be used in each iPhone sold in 2010," said Michael Yang, senior analyst for memory and storage at iSuppli. "iPhone shipments are set to rise to 33 million in 2010, up 31.5 percent from 25.1 million in 2009. With the iPhone already the largest application for NAND, this huge growth is likely to lead to some periods of undersupply for the year."
Partly owing to demand driven by the iPhone and competitive products, global NAND flash revenue will rise to $18.1 billion in 2010, up 34 percent from $13.5 billion in 2009, according to a preliminary forecast from iSuppli. This compares to a 14.8 percent increase in 2009.
The numbers are mind-boggling. Even stranger is this: Even more flash will be sold in 2011. We're not sure exactly how much more, but it will be more.
But that's a story for next February.