Apple iPhone, Nokia N97 Driving NAND Flash Memory Growth

Apple is a major factor in the growth of NAND flash memory and booming smartphone sales, says a report from iSuppli. Now that the new Nokia N97 smartphone matches the iPhone 3GS in terms of NAND flash memory capacity, Palm, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion and HTC are taking note.

PC sales may be slumping, but it's a good time to be a memory supplier to high-end smartphone makers. This trend, according to research company iSuppli, has a lot to do with Apple and the company's iPhone.
iSuppli is expecting global sales of NAND-type flash memory to rise nearly sixfold from 2008 to 2013, as the number of high-end smartphones skyrockets in the coming years, while entry-level model numbers dip.
"Soaring sales of smartphones, combined with the increasing density of NAND flash in each handset, is causing sales of the memory in this area to boom," iSuppli analyst Michael Yang said in a statement.
Yang said he expects sales of NAND flash for mobile phones to lead to global revenues of $932.5 million in 2013, up from $166.5 million in 2008.
"NAND flash makers can thank Apple Inc. for starting this trend, with its iPhone models injecting new life into the memory market," Yang wrote. "Apple announced it sold 5.2 million iPhone 3G and 3GS models during its fiscal third quarter, which ended in June. Furthermore, Apple plans to introduce the iPhone in China, possibly early [2010]. This will open the market for the iPhone to a new potential audience of 1.3 billion people."
iSuppli estimated the smartphone market to be expanding at faster rates than the overall handset market, in part due to handsets such as the Palm Pre, BlackBerry Storm, Android-based T-Mobile G1 and other devices looking to compete against the iPhone.
Yang also credits Apple with continually increasing the amount of NAND in the iPhone, which is an example he believes other manufacturers are following. While the Pre, Storm and T-Mobile G1 include 8GB of NAND, the Nokia N97 has 32GB of embedded NAND flash, which is on par with the iPhone 3GS.
"The more NAND in a smartphone, the more useful it becomes," Yang said, pointing out that it enables the device to "store more songs and video clips, to hold more map data, and [to] download more programs from an application store."
While smartphones accounted for 13.1 percent of the cell phone shipments in 2008, iSuppli expects this number to rise to 26.4 percent in 2013. Additionally, the average amount of NAND in a mobile phone is expected to rise from under 1GB in 2008 to an average of 5.8GB in 2013.