SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A year after its official inception, Numonyx Inc. continues to move full speed ahead with its charter despite the current memory downturn and chaos in the supply chain.
But the big question is if the joint flash-memory venture between Intel Corp. and STMicroelectronics Inc. can continue to weather the current downturn. Numonyx (Geneva) hopes for a quick recovery and new customers to jumpstart its sales and avoid more downsizing. Others ponder another question: Where does a pure-play flash player like Numonyx go from here?
To boost its fortunes in 2009 and beyond, Numonyx recently outlined its strategy. First, seeking to get in better fighting shape--while also reacting to the current downturn--Numonyx over the last year has quietly trimmed its workforce by 15 percent to 6,000 employees. The company has also reduced executive salaries, slashed discretionary spending, and, at times, cut its fab wafer starts.
It also did not meet its sales goals for 2008, but the privately-held venture claims it is well-positioned to compete in 2009 and beyond. Numonyx has little or no choice but to get its house in order, as it continues to face cut-throat competition from Samsung, Spansion and others in NOR, as well as Hynix, Samsung, Toshiba and a separate venture backed by Micron and parent Intel in NAND.
Seeking to gain ground on its rivals in 2009, Numonyx plans to expand its efforts within its three main markets: NAND, NOR and phase-change memory. It is also looking at new product markets like solid-state drives (SSDs) and is tinkering with its fab strategy.
And thanks in part to the misfortunes of others, Numonyx is becoming a more important player, especially in NOR. It is seeing new and sudden customer demand following the recent events at NOR rival Spansion Inc. As reported, Spansion has recently filed for protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws--a move that has created a potential void in the supply chain.
Now, with its strategy in place, Numonyx has a clear message going forward: It is not a flash in the pan and will not go away anytime soon. ''We are going to survive the downturn,'' declared Brian Harrison, president and chief executive of Numonyx. ''Some will not.''
The memory business has seen its share of consolidation, but the current downturn has cast a different light on today's supply chain. For example, the demise of Spansion has prompted many OEMs to re-think their priorities--at least in NOR, Harrison said. At one time, OEMs were mainly interested in technology, price and delivery. Now, they are worried about the viability of their respective suppliers.
''Suppliers are asking us: 'Are you going to be around a year from now?' Now, that's at the top of their list,'' Harrison said.
For its own part, Numonyx claims it has emerged as a ''much stronger'' player amid the downturn, thanks in part to some cost-cutting measures, modest capital spending and a relatively low debt load. And, of course, it has also benefited from strong backers in Intel and STMicroelectronics.
Some say Numonyx will be a force to reckon with. Others say the jury is still out on the company. Before it's said and done, the company may have to shed a fab or so to cut costs. It may never equip its empty fab in Italy and go the fab-lite route in the distant future, observers speculated.
On the product front, Numonyx has nowhere to hide and is exposed to the cyclical memory business. Over time, in an effort to boost its bottom line, it may have to seek acquisitions in both the memory and non-memory business.