Memory analyst DRAMexchange says growings sales of mobile phones will fuel demand for both flash and mobile DRAM memory. Global handset shipments are prophesied to grow 10.5 percent compared to last year, from 1.45 billion phones in 2009 to 1.61 billion this year.
The smartphone segment will be behind the demand spike. Smartphone shipments are expected to rise from 170 million units last year to 220 million in 2010, a rate of 28.6 ppercent year over year.
The rise of memory-hungry smartphones will lead to strongly increasing demand for memory products. DRAMexchanges sees mobile DRAM output rising by a stonking 71 percent to 1.87 billion 1GB DRAM chips.
Samsung and Hynix will battle each other over market share. Samsung’s mobile DRAM output has climbed to 20% of its product mix, compared to 12% at Hynix. Prices are expected to stay stable. Google’s new Nexus One handset, which was designed by Taiwanese handset maker HTC, has 512MB mobile DRAM and 512MB flash memory integrated.
* Update: Bloomberg reports that a total of 19 people were indicted – 10 from Applied, four from Samsung and five from Hynix. Four have been arrested and detained and it’s alleged 94 techs related to NAND and DRAM were involved, with the alleged industrial espionage continuing over a four year period.
Three people from Hynix and Applied Materials have been arrested by South Korean authorities and are accused of misappropiating semiconductor technology from Samsung.
According to the Wall Street Journal, another 14 people from Applied, Hynix and Samsung are being investigated by the authorities.
Applied Materials is a manufacturer of equipment used by semiconductor companies to make their chips. Hynix and Samsung are direct rivals in the memory market.
Applied has filed a note about the arrests with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. It said that it’s learned that the Seoul Prosecutor’s Office for the Eastern District in Korea has taken “certain actions into the alleged improper receipt and use of a customer’s confidential information”.
The former head of Applied Korea, who is now a VP at the company and other Korean employees have been indicted and arrested. Applied said there are defences to the charges.
It’s taking measures to address the arrest and indictments, it said in the SEC filing.
The European Commission is currently investigating various major players in the chip market, sources close to the investigation told news agency Reuters.
According to four deep throats, chip makers Infineon, Samsung, Hynix, Micron, Elpida, NEC Electronics, Hitachi, Toshiba, Mitsubishi Electric and Nanya fixed prices for their products.
The allegations led to various offices being raided in autumn last year. Former Siemens chip unit Infineon found its offices searched in December, as the company had to admit. The sources said they expect an official announcement to be made on Friday this week or next week Monday.
Neelie Kroes, the commissioner who currently heads the EC’s competition directorate, slapped a fine of $€1.06 billion on chip giant Intel last year May, for “abusing its dominant position on the x86 central processing unit (CPU) market.”
Her directorate also managed to whack Microsoft in the browser wars, forcing the software maker to let consumers in the EU decide if they want to use a different browser than IE. From March 2010 onwards, Windows users will be faced with a choice screen – considering IE has been garnering tons of negative publicity since China hacked the Google Mail accounts of various dissidents using IE, a ton of not-so tech savvy users will opt for either Firefox or Opera.
In other news, the EC is also checking price-fixing between Siemens and Swedish company ABB. The two companies apparently had a talk under four eyes and agreed on prices for Flexible Alternating Current Transmission Systems (FACTS). FACTS are used to increase the amount of power that can be sent over electric transmission networks.
Korean chaebol Samsung kept its lead as NAND flash supplier in the fourth quarter of 2009.
According to figures supplied by DRAM Exchange, the average selling price of NAND flash memory rose around five percent in the quarter, while total branded NAND flash bit shipments increased about 10 percent in the four quarter, compared to third quarter figures.
Samsung had 38.6 percent market share with $1.498 billion of revenues, Toshiba had 32.7 percent market share, contributing $1.267 billion revenue. Micron took third place with 9.9 percent market share and $385 million revenue, with Hynix taking the number four spot with revenues of $380 million. Intel and Numonyx occupied the fifth and sixth slot with revenues of $270 million and $80 million respectively.
Meanwhile, Hynix failed to find a foreign bidder for its business, and the Korea Exchange Bank has now given potential investors 12 extra days to make a bid for its business.
Rambus (tick: RMBS) will collect $900 million from giant Korean firm Samsung after the two companies decided to bury the hatchet over DRAM products.
Samsung will invest $200 million Rambus stock, will pay an initial sum of $200 million, and a quarterly payment of $25 million for the next five years.
The firms have also signed a memorandum of understanding to work n high performance memory interfaces including graphics memory and mobile memory. They’ll also look at collaborating on server and high speed NAND flash memory.
In consideration of the vast amount of money Samsung has and will pay Rambus, the Korean firm will get a perpetual fully paid up licence to some DRAM products.
Rambus is notoriously litigious, and is ready to start a case against Samsung, Hynix and Micron over an alleged breach of antitrust laws. That’s delayed because a Micron lawyer involved in the case is unwell.