With anticipation high for a new iPhone this summer, rumors are rising after a recent Apple purchase from Samsung. Apple bought 100 million 8GB NAND flash chips, which DigiTimes says points to increased storage for the iPhone.
Flash-chip suppliers Hynix, Intel, Micron and Toshiba may also have had a part in the Apple purchase. The order fueled rumors that Apple is building a bigger-memory iPhone, likely with 32GB of storage, to share shelf space with the 8GB and 16GB iPhone 3G models already on the market.
Industry observers are expecting new Apple iPhone hardware to be announced as early as Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June.
Conflicting reports have surfaced, with some saying the storage chips in question are eight-gigabit chips with 1GB of storage each, while others say they each have 8GB of storage.
Ramping up storage to 32GB would help Apple boost its success with the iPhone and App Store, which has had more than 800 million downloads, according to Apple.
The extra storage, expected to be used for video capability, may come around the same time the iPhone OS 3.0 arrives, which is expected to be this summer. Apple's iPhone OS 3.0 includes 100 new features, including search functionality; cut, copy and paste; and the ability to send photos, contacts and audio files via MMS. The new OS also allows users to read and compose e-mail and text messages.
The iPhone isn't the only device expected to receive the extra storage. Apple is also rumored to be working on a 32GB NAND chip for the iPod shuffle.
"It's all speculation right now, so it could be more storage for the iPhone, or even the iPod touch," said Ramon Llamas, an IDC analyst.
Shortage and Competition
The timing of such storage and rumors of a next-generation iPhone are significant as app-store competition heats up from other companies, including Microsoft, Palm and Research in Motion.
Some think Apple's large order will create a shortage for others in the market for NAND flash chips, including Nokia and Sony.
Contract prices for multi-level cell or MLC NAND flash chips (which allow more bits to be stored) have increased up to 16 percent for the first half of this month because of shipment adjustments by chip suppliers, according to DRAMeXchange. Mainstream MLC 16GB and 32GB prices also rose between eight to 13 percent.
Major NAND flash chipmakers usually put aside more shipments for device makers, and don't increase production for the second quarter in order to maintain price stability. Supply is expected to stay tight until at least next month.
Image credit: Product shots by Apple.