The latest rumors and unconfirmed reports from the semiconductor industry's most interesting soap opera of the moment.
Apple in the mix
The report that Apple is considering entering the bidding, though it was originally reported by the Yomiuri Shimbun late last month, gets the most attention because, well, it's Apple.
This rumor picked up steam and credence this week when Japan's national public broadcasting organization, NHK, said Apple is considering teaming up with Foxconn to bid for the memory chip business. According to the report, which has been picked up far and wide, Apple itself is considering buying a 20 percent stake in the business.
The idea of Apple entering the boom-and-bust memory chip business is still a bit of a head scratcher, but as we reported earlier this week, the fact that it's even being reported by people with a straight face just goes to show how important NAND flash is at this particular moment in time, with the memory chip business soaring and with no successor to NAND on the immediate horizon.
Market research firm Gartner earlier this week became the latest to increase its forecast for the overall semiconductor business in 2017 based on prime conditions in the memory market. Gartner envisions increasing NAND prices and shortages in the near term, before an increase in capacity leads to a memory market correction in 2019. With Apple's sales being what they are, a few billion dollars to save the company headaches over the next two years doesn't seem that far fetched.
Also, the idea that Apple is joining forces with Foxconn, which makes iPhones and iPads and other Apple products on a contract manufacturing basis, sounds about right. Foxconn has been chomping at the bit to get its hands on the Toshiba NAND business, so much so that it reportedly is considering offering $27 billion for the business, about 50 percent more than Toshiba had hoped its sale would fetch. The Japanese government is said to be wary of letting Toshiba's memory chip technology fall into Chinese or Taiwanese hands, preferring instead a U.S. or -- better yet -- Japanese buyer. One wonders if Apple's involvement might make a deal palatable, even if the majority of the business goes to Foxconn.
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