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Apple confirms purchase of flash memory company Anobit

Apple confirmed on Tuesday its acquisition of Anobit Technologies, an Israel-based flash memory component maker, though it declined to reveal the cost of the deal.

Company spokesman Steve Dowling told Bloomberg BusinessWeek that the purchase had been made recently.

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” he added.

Reports emerged last month that Apple planned to acquire the company for as much as $500 million. A Hebrew-language newspaper claimed in late December that the deal had been finalized.

Apple is also believed to be planning a semiconductor development center in Israel, a move that could synergize well with its recent acquisition. The facility would be the first of its kind for the company, which has preferred to contain research efforts within its headquarters.

Apple already uses Anobit parts in its iOS devices and the MacBook Air, and the firm's proprietary "Memory Signal Processing" (MSP) technology reportedly attracted the Cupertino, Calif., company's interest. Anobit claims MSP can improve the reliability, performance, efficiency and endurance of flash memory.

The technology could also offer some cost benefits for Apple, as it allows less expensive types of flash memory to be used. One report claimed Apple could see savings of between 10 to 20 percent on its flash purchases as a result of the Anobit acquisition.

As sales of its iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air products have taken off, the company has become the world's biggest consumer of NAND flash memory in recent years. Sanford C. Bernstein reported earlier this month that the iPhone maker accounted for 23 percent of the world's flash memory purchases last quarter.

In the past, Apple has elected to pre-purchase its flash memory, spending billions of dollars on deals with memory chip makers. Early last year, Apple's then COO Tim Cook said the decision was an "absolutely fantastic use" of the company's cash.

Cook, who now serves as Apple's chief executive officer, went on to say that the company is constantly looking for similar strategic opportunities. Apple revealed last January that it had committed $3.9 billion to secret long-term component contracts similar to its flash pre-purchases.