Apple & Google in the Memory Business?

Here's one to put in the healthy skepticism file: a recent report from a Japanese newspaper claims that Apple, Google and Amazon have all thrown their hats into the bidding for Toshiba's chip business. Hmmmm.

A few disclaimers about this up front. First, the report, which originated in the Yomiuri Shimbun a week and a half ago, doesn't include the attribution of any sources. Second, none of the companies mentioned have confirmed its accuracy.

But neither qualifier is in and of itself debunks the story. First of all, the fact that Apple, Google and Amazon have all stayed mum on the report is par for the course. Secondly, with the exception of SK Hynix's bid for a stake in Toshiba in February, all of the companies mentioned as bidders in the Toshiba chip sweepstakes so far have come to light through anonymous sources, simply because nobody with any real knowledge of the process is supposed to be talking at all.

For most of the past decade, companies have been scrambling to get out of the memory chip business. Some have literally died trying. Is it really conceivable that three of the largest and most successful companies in high tech — none of which are semiconductor suppliers — are willing to plunk down something in the neighborhood of $18 billion to buy their way in?

Perhaps not. More recently, news reports have indicated that Toshiba has whittled the list of potential buyers down to a handful, with no further mention of Apple, Google or Amazon (more on this below).

Whether there was ever any truth to the report of Apple, Google and Amazon sniffing around Toshiba, the fact that this possibility even generated any smoke at all says two things: the memory business is better positioned right now than it has been in a long time and NAND flash is a very desirable commodity right now in this era of Big Data deluge.

“If [the report is] true, it shows Amazon and Google consider flash to be a key component for their datacenters and are willing to put money down to secure supply of this strategic commodity, especially in a market where NAND flash supply is tight,” said Greg Wong, founder and principal analyst at Forward Insights, a market research firm focused on the memory chip business.

To read the rest of this article, visit EBN sister site EE Times

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