updated 10:00 am EDT, Mon August 6, 2007
16GB Flash iPod Claim
Apple is in the last stages of preparing a flash-based video iPod, claim sources in Taiwan's semiconductor business. The new model will reportedly draw on 16GB of flash memory and should be ready by late September, according to the sources. No mention was made of whether this model would directly replace today's hard disk-based models, which offer as much as 80GB of storage, or whether it would supplant the already flash-driven iPod nano. The introduction would take place roughly at the same time as the Apple Expo event in September.
The introduction of the device may create significant problems in the wake of the recent Samsung power outage that disrupted worldwide production of flash memory, the sources said. An iPod demanding more, higher-capacity chips would put added strain on the Korean firm's reduced supply, which may also have been hurt by the shift towards more advanced chips made with a smaller manufacturing process. A drop in Apple shares on Friday is said to have been triggered by concerns that the California company would not meet iPhone and iPod shipment targets if flash memory production could not recover in time.
Samsung itself has mitigated these concerns with news that it had already resumed full production at all six of the downed factories by mid-Saturday, trumping worst-case fears of a one-month downtime. At least some of the chips that were on assembly lines during the outage can be reused, Samsung added. Though still a significant factor, an estimate from CW Chung of analyst group Lehman Brothers pegs Samsung's loss at only 9 percent of its total flash memory output for the quarter.
The company itself said there should be no apparent problems for its customers, which include Apple. "We have assured our key flash chip clients that there would be no supply problem," said Samsung's semiconductor head Hwang Chang-gyu.