Makers of MP3 players are facing a shortage of 1GB flash memory chips, and at least one blames Apple and Samsung for the less than ample supply that the rest of the industry is fighting for.
“One of the key challenges we face in our MP3 business is an industry-wide shortage of 1GB flash memory,” said Creative president Craig McHugh. “Industry demand for high-capacity flash memory currently outstrips supply and this will impact availability of our 1GB flash MP3 players for the holiday quarter. The shortage of flash memory, according to industry analyst speculation, is primarily a result of a special deal that Apple has secured from a key supplier for the holiday season.”
It has been reported that Samsung is selling the majority of its flash memory supply to Apple at below market cost for use in the iPod nano and iPod shuffle.
Creative CEO Sim Wong Hoo said the deal is putting pressure on many smaller companies. “The MP3 market is now consolidating, but there is a shortage [of flash memory] because of the special deal we talked about,” said Sim. “The low-end [manufacturers] went out of business in the last few months because it’s very hard to face this pressure. If Creative is losing money then it’s very difficult for other companies to really fight in this battle.”
Sim said he doesn’t expect the deal to last long. “I don’t think the vendor [Samsung] is benefiting on it, so it’s really a one-sided deal,” he said. “I don’t think anybody else out there can get [similar terms]. That’s not the way the industry practices.”