There Are Things More Important Than Size…Just Ask Flash


“I’d much rather see you on my side, than scattered into… atoms.”The Emperor Ming, Flash Gordon (Universal Pictures – 1980)

We like things that spin, things that go fast. You know, like flying saucers and rocket ships…drives and flash memory. It’s a good thing, because with all that business and the Web have to offer, you need every bit of space you can find to store all the stuff.

First of all, there are a few classes of people on Earth:

– those who swear a millisecond is too long

– those who have to “know” everything

– those who will make trade-offs.

– those who don’t have a clue!

We know people who honestly believe that flash memory will dominate the world. We know people who are so connected they swear to gawd everything will be instantly available to them all the time, including the best Tellywood has to offer (we know that’s an oxymoron but live with it!).


Figure 2 – One for All – While iPhone people will tell you one device will serve all of your needs, many people like to have multiple specialty devices to entertain, guide, educate and assist them in staying in touch all of the time. Even when people have one-device-does-it-all units, they still add to the things they carry and use. Source — NYTimes

They blow off the laws of human nature, physics and profits like:

– most people have a 2.5Mb/s pipe

– download of a high-def blu-ray quality movie is 22 hours

– sure, most folks will settle for less than high-quality video, MP3 is good enough today and ???

– Panasonic and their Hollywood cronies have diabolic plans to change your movie “needs” with 3D

As Flash said, “This Ming is a psycho!” We won’t get into the area – right now – where chip memory has a lot of legs — the enterprise. With six billion + sets of eyes/ears to feed, it’s all about content. And boy is there content!


Figure 3 – More and More – With our ability to buy as many USB drives, external HDs and optical discs as we want, it’s pretty hard to believe the world is producing more content than we have places to put it. But from studies by IDC and major storage suppliers, we have to believe that we are outstripping our ability to store the stuff. Source — IDC

A lot of it is just floating around the Internet looking for a home. There are plenty of homes for the stuff today because people expect to be connected (and informed/entertained) all the time.


Figure 4 – Always On – The Internet, Web, netbooks/notebooks, mobile game systems and smart devices have made us feel that we have to always be on, always available and close to our content. All of the devices and services not only need batteries, they also need fast, economic, huge storage. Source — IDC

This is the sexy side of the business (profits are a moot point). It’s the side of the business that touches everyone…young/old, male/female, rich/not so rich.

Consumer Flash

Flash memory is used “everywhere” :

– one billion plus computers

– three billion smartphones

– a gazillion MP3 players, eBooks, smartbooks/netbooks, portable game systems, cameras/camcorders


Figure 5 – Pick A Device, Flash Fits – You can’t have too much rich, beautiful, exciting content, information and news. And you can’t have too much non-volatile storage capacity. Just ask our kids and the storage manufacturers. Source — Gartner

And no one can “live” with just one device…ask our kids! We look at their “gotta have” needs and agree with Dr. Zarkov, it’s no mistake… IT’S AN ATTACK! I’ve been right all these years!”

Just think how many flash cards you have lying around (filled) for your digital camera/camcorder. Open your junk drawer at home or the office and what do you see? Yep, a wide assortment of USB flash drives! At least six, maybe a dozen. All of them filled with really important stuff.

Folks don’t think about them in the same way Kala did when he declared…“We’re going to empty your memory as we might empty your pockets… Doctor.” It doesn’t matter, you’ve gotta’ have them and you’ve gotta’ have more of them. All bigger, faster than the last.These ubiquitous storage devices are going to have tremendous growth potential, according to device manufacturers and industry analysts.


Figure 6 – Growth Potential – The performance, battery conservation and green benefits of flash memory makes it an ideal solution for a growing range of applications. There are times when we believe the market is only limited by man’s (and woman’s) creativity and an organization’s ability to deliver product profitably. Source — Gartner

The other areas of growth? They’re going to sell those little storage units to PC/CE/communications folks to put into new devices you’ve gotta’ have, can’t live without. As Klytus said, Bring me… the bore worms!”

You know what’s sorta’, kinda’ wrong with that picture? Wouldn’t it be a whole lot cheaper for the iPhone (and other), iPod (and other) people to design a gotta’ have device with let’s say 4GB of semi storage inside and a USB and/or card slot. Think about it. Instead of a 16GB device that costs $300 +/-, they could sell you a $100 device that features…“virtual storage capacity.”

If you can live with 4GB, great! If you’re a content hog, you go out and buy a bunch of 8, 16, 32, heck 64GB add-ons! Brilliant!!!! A helluva’ idea for the consumer! Fantastic idea for chip storage manufacturers/packagers!

So??? Oh yeah…forgot.

Newer, Higher Capacity

Steve would have to figure out something different to introduce instead of a new iPhone with — Ta Da..16GB storage capacity. Or an iPod with 32GB.

Oh sure, folks wouldn’t run out to buy the new whatever because theirs was smaller than the next guy’s/gal’s; but maybe, just maybe, more people would buy the first-, second-, third- generation of device. That means Apple would sell a billion iPhones and three billion iPods, instead of a few hundred million.

That means all of those people would buy more stuff from the iTunes and apps stores. That would help more than just Apple shareholders, it would help third-party folks…yes, we admit it, including storage suppliers.

As Dr. Zarkov said, “The poor wretches are just waiting for someone to lead them in revolt…!” We know. We know right now you’re thinking exactly what Emperor Ming said, Are your men on the right pills? Maybe you should execute their trainer!”

But wait. Think how that could expand the demand for devices of all kinds across the board. Manufacturers would love to blow right past IDC’s aggressive projections for mobile devices in 2012.


Figure 7 – More, More – If a few brave device manufacturers decided to offer units with virtual storage (just keep swapping in/out storage), they could lower their unit costs and sell even more gotta-have products. Memory slots are becoming increasingly popular on new notebooks/netbooks as manufacturers lower their prices and the same is true of cameras/camcorders. Imagine what this could do to the price of your smartphone. Source — IDC

Just look what cheap, no-memory netbooks did for the portable computer market. The sub-$100 do-nothing when the cloud is gone devices “stimulated” notebook manufacturers to develop a new category – ultra-lite, sub notebooks.

Priced at a few hundred bucks with serious storage, serious capability, they convinced our kid he needed a new computer for school. Something with real software, 120GB storage, serious video (gaming) capability, real connectivity, real ability to work when he couldn’t connect.

Of course, he really wanted us to swap out the HD for one of those sexy, fast, power conservative 256GB SSD drives; but get serious kid! Computer cost $500…the SSD (right now) $700!

SSD has a lot of benefits – low power consumption, small footprint, robust, runs cool, moves apps really fast – but seriously, a 10X price difference? Sorry kid, we’ll wait ‘til they are a “little” more economic or you’re putting money into our pocket, instead of taking it out!

More Storage

There’s still plenty of other opportunities for him to “need” chip storage, and the manufacturers are really pushing to make it possible for him. And while flash memory storage gets a lot of attention, it’s still a “minor” player in the digital content storage arena.


Figure 8 – Sliver of the Market – While semiconductor storage racks up $4 billion plus in sales this year, it is still a minor player in the overall storage market–especially when analysts look beyond consumer goods to the larger enterprise market. There’s still room to grow. Source – Coughlin Associates

Assuming, that is, that you call a $4 billion plus market minor! Sure, you’d like to take advantage of all of its benefits – speed, battery life, quiet, cool, green – if it wasn’t so “expensive!” The problem is, it’s a very capital-intensive business (we know, you don’t care about their costs!).

Intel dumps boatloads of money into their production capabilities. AMD decided they’d outsource their production. Most flash chip manufacturers are doing well if they can get a sliver of profit out of their sales.

Price Pressure Easing

O.K., you don’t feel real sorry for them because what they lose on each sale they make up in volume.But they show signs of recovery because the oversupply seems to be easing and demand is increasing.

Folks are springing for more smartphones/smartbooks, new netbooks/notebooks, gaming devices, cameras, music players, other devices. Manufacturers/packagers are so optimistic they’re shouting along with Prince Vultan, Let this be known forever as Flash Gordon’s Day!”

It’s encouraging to note that most of the company executives and industry analysts agree that suppliers are going to focus more intensely on their bottom line rather than their production line.


You won’t see the daily price drop of flash storage media you’ve seen in the past.


Figure 9 – Oh Flash — This isn’t cheesecake. It just shows that the “beautiful people” are attracted to Flash. Until just recently, you didn’t run out and buy a new hard drive just because it was flat-out gorgeous. Same is true of CD/DVD discs. But a new flash device can be an object to really appreciate. Source – Universal Pictures

But you’ll get over the end of the price wars; and soon you’ll be back to looking longingly at the array of products and saying the same thing Dale said, Flash, Flash, I love you, but we only have fourteen hours to save the Earth!”

That’ll be good for everyone…trust us!

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