As if things weren't bad enough for flash memory companies this year, they're now even more concerned since Apple has yet to place a major order in 2008, according to a report out of Taiwan.
Digitimes hasn't always been the most reliable source, but they have gotten enough things right lately to take notice, and their report Tuesday suggesting that Apple's flash memory orders have fallen off the face of the Earth jives with other information we've seen this year. According to Digitimes' sources in the Taiwanese flash memory industry, Apple has yet to place a big order of flash memory during this calendar year after spending about $1.3 billion in 2007 on flash.
Last month, iSuppli reported that Apple was cutting its flash memory orders. And at a meeting last week for financial analysts, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said that flash memory prices had fallen 53 percent from the fourth quarter to the first as demand slackened from Intel's biggest flash customer, believed to be Apple.
Even after all this time it doesn't seem that any other MP3 player is cutting into the iPod juggernaut, suggesting that Apple's primary concern is the state of the economy, not a competitive threat. At last week's Apple investor meeting, Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenhemier said that "these are concerning times we're in."
Digitimes suggests that the rumored launch of an Apple Mobile-Internet Device using Intel's Atom chip might provide a boost for the flash memory market, but I'm still skeptical that kind of device--if it actually exists--would be that much of a catalyst.
If anything, I would think a compelling MID from Apple would take business away from either the iPhone or the iPod Touch, leaving Apple with the same amount of flash memory demand. Intel isn't expected to ship the Atom processor until the second quarter.