Apple, Google, Amazon Enter Race to Buy Toshiba NAND Flash Unit

Sunday April 2, 2017 5:23 AM PDT by Tim Hardwick

Apple, Amazon, and Google are actively engaged in the bidding war to acquire Toshiba's NAND memory unit, according to a report by Yomiuri Shimbun Daily on Saturday (via Korean Herald).

According to the Japanese newspaper, there are now 10 bidders looking to buy Toshiba's lucrative semiconductor operation, which accounts for 20 percent of the NAND market. Nikkei reported on Friday that U.S. private equity firm Silver Lake and U.S. chipmaker Broadcom offered Toshiba about 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) for the unit. Other bidders include frontrunner and world's largest NAND flash maker, Western Digital, with Apple suppliers Foxconn and TSMC having been named early on as potential suitors.


"The US tech firms -- Apple, Google and Amazon -- have become the next attractive bidders following Western Digital as Toshiba can have stable supply chains (for smartphones or data servers) from them," an industry source told The Korea Herald.

On Thursday, Toshiba shareholders agreed to split off the NAND flash unit and sell it, in order to raise at least $9 billion to cover U.S. nuclear unit charges that threaten the conglomerate's future. Both Apple and Samsung are major clients of the unit, while Google and Amazon want to buy the NAND maker to supply their own data servers, rather than having to rely on chipmakers.

Prices on the flash memory market remain high, while Apple's interest in acquiring the unit has only increased as it continues to boost the storage capacity of its iPhones and iPads. Buying the unit would not only provide Apple with the ability to design and make its own flash memory, but it would also mean Samsung losing its main client. How much Apple's offer amounts to remains unknown, however.

Tag: Toshiba

Top Rated Comments

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39 months ago

Apple continues to become more generous with storage prices on iOS devices, I hope this would mean we could potentionally see the same come to the Mac.... if they win the bidding war that is.

Yeah if they ever upgrade them
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
39 months ago

Apple continues to become more generous with storage prices on iOS devices, I hope this would mean we could potentionally see the same come to the Mac.... if they win the bidding war that is.

Don't fool yourself. Apple wants it to increase profits, not to increase base storage in their devices.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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39 months ago

I hate to break it to you, but in business terms, it's called Vertical Integration. And it would indeed mean a change in strategy. Study business or get an MBA and you'll understand.

I hate to break it to you, but in this case, vertical integration does nothing for Apple. It would simply mean they are tied to their own NAND chips for the foreseeable future. Unless their plans include entering the NAND market as a vendor, then this deal would make even less sense. Fabs are cash intensive, low margin properties. They typically subsist on volume. Apple's volume might be great, but if they are solely supplying themselves then the fab is nothing but expensive overhead with no appreciable benefit. A stake in a bidder makes more sense.

Studying business or getting an MBA won't overcome the generalities in your quote. The specifics of Apple's business model carries far more weight than studying generic business principles.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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39 months ago

The three biggest tech firms, in their respective category, Apple, Google, Amazon, changing their strategy at the same moment and moving into owning semiconductor fabs? Colour me skeptical.

What do you mean by change of strategy?

All three of them have solid reasons to cut the middleman and create their own NAND.

Amazon and Google operate a lot of cloud infrastructure.

Apple is trying to expand the amount of self-managed cloud infrastructure and at the same time could use the NAND for the many devices they sell.

Amazon and Google are OEMs as well, so partially that reason applies to them as well.

We've seen for quite some time now that NAND is incredibly important to keep at low price price points, the more you can do to achieve that the more of an edge over your competitors you have.

Apple continues to become more generous with storage prices on iOS devices, I hope this would mean we could potentionally see the same come to the Mac.... if they win the bidding war that is.

I don't think generous is the right term when you consider how much they milked the 16GB cow and similarly 32GB now (on "Pro" models nonetheless).

Glassed Silver:ios
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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39 months ago

Apple NEEDS to win this. There's no excuse for it not to with the largest market cap and massive treasure trove of liquid cash that it's just sitting on and doing nothing with. If Apple doesn't win this, then heads do need to roll. There has been too many high profile missteps, and executive cluelessness, and stifling corporate group think , all while key competitors are surpasing Apple in existing markets and beating them handedly in new markets and technologies.

Controlling the NAND chip market could buy them some time in playing catch up.

You're overreacting and know nothing about the details of this purchase. They are probably still trying to determine if it's a good for for them and maybe just trying to drive up the price for others. Apple already does control the NAND chip market in a sense. They place the largest orders and have the most money. That means they get the best prices and their orders are prioritized. It also means they suck the air out of the room and make competitors choke for supply. Buying into a large fab business like this isn't all upside. Remember the debacle for a small acquisition like the sapphire plant?
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Meaning they decided to bid in order to then deliberately fail? Sorry, but I understand neither your point nor why Aston441 upvoted it.

They're not bidding anonymously on EBay. Bidding directly against competitors changes not only the dollar amount but the rational behind the bidding.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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39 months ago
The three biggest tech firms, in their respective category, Apple, Google, Amazon, changing their strategy at the same moment and moving into owning semiconductor fabs? Colour me skeptical.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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