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Monday, November 14, 2005, 07:00 am PT (10:00 am ET)

Apple shops for third flash memory supplier

Following a failed joint venture with Samsung and amidst a major ramp in iPod production, Apple Computer is reportedly shopping around for a third supplier of the NAND flash memory used in its popular iPod nano and iPod shuffle music players.

According to a report released by research firm InSpectrum, the iPod maker is likely to tap South Korea-based Hynix Semiconductor, which it recently asked to submit price quotes for low-density NAND flash memory.

Although Samsung and Toshiba are Apple’s primary flash memory suppliers, DigiTimes claims that Apple will shift to Hynix for its low-density 1GB and 512MB (used in the iPod shuffle) while Toshiba strives to fulfill strong demand from SanDisk — the world’s largest supplier of flash memory data storage card products.

With increased output of flash memory leading into November, and partly due to a planned ramp at Hynix, contract prices for low-density flash have started to decline, the firm added.

InSpectrum forecasts that supply and demand should return to equilibrium in December, with present demand for memory cards, MP3 players and USB drives "remaining vibrant."

Last month, Apple reportedly voided a $3.8 billion joint investment plan with Samsung after the Korean-based company and its U.S. subsidiary pleaded guilty to price fixing charges.