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Thursday, December 09, 2004, 05:00 pm PT (08:00 pm ET)

Toshiba to supply Apple with flash memory?

According to one report, Toshiba may have signed on as a supplier of flash memory for Apple Computer's forthcoming flash-based music player.

Toshiba Corp, Japan's second largest chipmaker, will soon supply flash memory to Apple Computer, according Yasuo Morimoto, senior executive vice-president at Toshiba.

The report, which appeared in China Daily, claims that Toshiba will begin selling the flash memory to Apple in early 2005, presumably for use in the company's upcoming flash-based iPod.

Toshiba is also the supplier of hard drives for Apple's white iPods, which have sold between 4 and 6 million units to date.

The reliability of this most recent report is unknown, and AppleInsider's own sources have previously reported that Apple will begin manufacturing the iPod flash this month in preparation of an early January introduction. World-wide availability of the iPod flash is reportedly scheduled for February.

If at all accurate, Morimoto's comments are likely to irritate Apple, which has a long standing tradition of closely guarding its O.E.M. contracts, especially those pertaining to unreleased products. But this won't be the first time Toshiba has blown Apple's cover.

Earlier this year, the two companies entered into a tiff after Toshiba publicly stated it had signed a contract to supply Apple with 60GB hard drives for an unannounced high-end iPod. Miffed by the move, Apple denounced the report and did not ship an iPod with a 60GB drive until about 4 months later.