iSuppli, the smart Southern California-based IT analyst, tells us that the market landscape in NAND flash arena is changing.
Toshiba, which invented NAND flash in the 1970s but was overtaken by Samsung as the world's leading producer in recent years, recorded the strongest performance among the top NAND flash suppliers in Q1 2010. The Japanese solid-state drive maker gained nearly three percentage points of market share in a mere three months.
At the same time, longtime market dominator Samsung lost 1.3 percentage points.
Micron Technology, which recently found an extra $1.27 billion in stock lying around and bought phase-change memory maker Numonyx with it, is the only other supplier that gained share, adding a mild 0.2 percent in share compared to Q4 2009.
Why the relatively big move by Toshiba in a single quarter? You can look to the continued sale of smartphones and Apple's iPad for at least some of the answer, iSuppli analyst Michael Yang said in a May 19 report.
"The early success of Apple Inc.'s iPad portends strong growth for NAND demand in tablets," Yang said.
"With price stability, a cautious sense of normalcy has emerged for NAND suppliers -- a welcome change after the uncertainty of 2009. While demand for traditional NAND strongholds like flash cards and USB drives started to decline toward the end of the quarter, sales are growing at an outsized rate for consumer electronics products and smart phones."
This is all good for the flash business. But wait till Hewlett-Packard and Dell start selling their new NAND flash-based handhelds.
Dell's Streak is due out in about three weeks; nobody knows much about HP's rumored tablet.