NAND flash memory sees steady growth thanks to ultrabooks, smartphones, tablets

April 19, 2012 — The NAND flash memory market will grow 8% in 2012 to $22.9 billion, thanks to major sales drivers such as solid-state-drive (SSD) equipped ultrabooks, according to the IHS iSuppli Data Flash Market Tracker.

NAND flash consumption is increasing in 3 principal markets: smartphones, tablets and ultrabooks, bringing NAND revenue continuously higher during the next few years, hitting approximately $30.9 billion by 2016.

Figure. Worldwide NAND flash revenue forecast ($B). SOURCE: IHS iSuppli Research, April 2012.

  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Billions of US Dollars $21.2 $22.9 $24.2 $27.7 $28.1 $30.9

“Even though most NAND manufacturers had planned to be on the fast track in 2012 to increase production at newly built fabs, each supplier has since reduced capital spending compared to its original plans, electing to moderate supply expansions to allow demand to catch up. Such a strategy will avoid a precipitous price decline that the industry won’t be able to withstand, leading to more optimism for a stronger 2012,” said Michael Yang, senior principal analyst for memory & storage at IHS.

2011 numbers were not as high as expected for NAND, due to temperate tablet demand in Q4 2011, especially excluding Apple’s iPad. Lower-cost tablets also saw modest success, though these models use low amounts of NAND memory. The Kindle Fire from Amazon offers 8 gigabytes of NAND flash, compared to the iPad’s maximum 64 gigabytes of storage. If competitive tablets had similar NAND densities to the iPad, overall NAND flash consumption would be higher. On its own, Apple will consume about 25% of the overall NAND supply in 2012, equivalent to some 8 billion gigabytes. The iPad will be responsible for 74% of NAND consumption in the tablet segment this year, accounting for 2.8 billion gigabytes out of a total 3.8 billion gigabytes in tablets.

NAND flash suppliers have been pushing for the adoption of SSDs in ultrabooks, which attract corporate and consumer customers due to their light weight, long battery life and fast boot-up times. Ultrabook integration will push total NAND consumption in the PC segment to more than 15% of total NAND flash supply. SSDs will account for some 3.3 billion gigabytes of NAND flash consumption this year, up from 1.7 billion gigabytes in 2011.

Cell phones, namely smartphones, will grow the NAND flash market in 2012. Smartphone shipments this year will hit 626 million units, with an average NAND flash content of 9.0 gigabytes per unit. Overall NAND flash consumption in 2012 for smartphones is forecast to reach 5.7 billion gigabytes, up from 3.1 billion gigabytes in 2011. The iPhone, with an average density that is more than two times that of other smartphones, will consume more than 3.2 billion gigabytes in 2012. By 2016, NAND memory content in smartphones will amount to 18.9 gigabytes, representing 16% of total NAND bit shipments.

Other Apple products that will use NAND flash in significant quantities are the Mac Book Air and iPod Touch.

Get the IHS iSuppli Data Flash Market Tracker report at

IHS (NYSE: IHS) provides information, insight and analytics in critical areas that shape today’s business landscape. Internet:

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