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Apple supplier 'reveals' next-gen iPods due at usual time of year


A long-time supplier of components for Apple Inc.'s iPods has reportedly been cut out of next-generation designs due later this year, just as conflicting reports surface over the company's orders for 32GB NAND flash chips.

Shares of Edinburgh-based Wolfson Microelectronics bled as much as 30 percent of their value, slipping to a three year low early Thursday after the company said it had lost out on a contract to supply parts for digital media players from a major customer.

Wolfson, who said the new players were due to be launched in the third quarter of 2008, warned investors that second-half revenues would be hit as a result.

In speaking to Reuters a person familiar with the matter confirmed the products in question to be new versions of iPod nano and iPod touch, which have historically seen introductions in the Sept.-Oct. timeframe.

Wolfson has been the primary supplier of audio decoder chips for Apple's iPods and iPhones, dating back to at least as early as 2005.

Meanwhile, Far Eastern NAND flash memory suppliers are reportedly agreeing to disagree with one another over changes in Apple's NAND flash procurement, specifically high-density 32GB (and larger) modules that could prove critical to a 3G iPhone manufacturing ramp in the coming months.

While Hynix and Samsung have hinted that Apple is re-stocking its NAND inventory, downstream players in Taiwan doubt their claims, saying that Apple still houses a considerable supply of chips according to their estimates.

According to DigiTimes, the downstream players believe that Apple has indeed started to stock up on the high-density NAND flash chips. However, they say Hynix and Samsung are exaggerating the magnitude of the order increase in attempts to fuel price increases.

It was reported earlier this month that, despite procuring about $1.2 to 1.3 billion worth of NAND flash memory for its products in calendar year 2007, Apple has yet to place any substantial orders this year, leading to mainstream NAND flash prices that have fallen below cost.