Apple reportedly eyes up alternative memory chip suppliers

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Apple is reportedly testing flash memory chips from alternative suppliers as it seeks to reduce its exposure to disruption in its supply chain.

NAND memory chips are used in a wide variety of consumer electronics and the market is heavily commoditised, subject to fluctuations in price, and adheres to ‘just-in-time’ inventories.

Apple sources these components from a variety of sources, including market leaders Samsung and SK Hynix. However, Bloomberg says problems at Japanese firm Kioxia earlier this year have demonstrated a potential weakness in its current approach.

iPhone memory chips

While existing suppliers are expected to fill any shortfall, Apple is said to be discussing the possibility of using flash chips from Chinese vendor Yangtze. 

Any deal would be a huge boost for China, which wants to become a bigger player in semiconductors to boost its technology industry and increase its independence.

However, the situation is still speculative at present and it is thought Yangtze’s technology is a generation behind the market leaders. However, its chips could be used to power mid-range devices like the iPhone SE and would be closer to Apple’s chief assembler Foxconn, which is also predominantly based in China.

Such an arrangement would also win favour with Beijing given Apple’s production ecosystem there supports millions of jobs. It had been previously suggested Apple could move up to 15 and 30% of its activities to other countries such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia or Mexico in bid to reduce its own exposure to a single country.

Some iPhone 13 production has now been moved to India. 

The company has been contacted by TechRadar Pro for comment.

Via Bloomberg

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.