Cellphones to be the largest consumer of Flash memory in 2013

February 04, 2013 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
In another sign of the pre-eminent position smartphones now hold in the global technology market, cellphones as a whole are set to become the world’s single largest consumer of flash memory in 2013, according to the IHS iSuppli Flash Dynamics Market Brief.

A vast array of products now make use of NAND flash memory. However, cellphones this year will jump to the lead spot with a 24.6 percent share of global bit shipments, up from second place in 2012 with 23.3 percent, as presented in the figure attached.

“With smartphones accounting for an ever- increasing portion of the global cellphone business, the mobile handset market is demanding more and more memory—particularly flash,” said Ryan Chien, analyst for memory and storage at IHS. “This is causing the cellphone business to eclipse all other application markets for flash usage. Indeed, the shift in flash demand is reflective of a widespread transition in technology markets to focus more on mobile platforms like smartphones.”

The device last year with the largest market share of flash memory consumption, flash storage cards, in 2013 will tumble to third place with a 19.7 percent share of flash consumption. Sitting between handsets and flash storage cards will be solid state drives (SSD), ranked the No. 2 consumer this year with 20.6 percent, up two spots from 2012.

Other devices in 2013 with prominent market share in flash consumption include No. 4-ranked USB flash drives, tablet PCs in fifth place, and MP3 players in sixth. Together, the Top 6 devices will account for a whopping 93.2 percent market share of projected flash memory usage this year.

The remaining share will then be split among 10 products, including personal navigation devices, video camcorders, handheld game players and digital set-top boxes.

New opportunities

The use of NAND flash in various applications was a major theme at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the Storage Visions events, both held last month in Las Vegas.

For Ultrabooks, Intel announced new requirements for expensive touch screens, likely increasing cache SSD usage relative to standalone SSDs because of cost pressures related to the bill of materials (BOM).

Cache SSDs, which are used alongside a hard drive to