Apple's iPhone plans this year could trigger shortages of flash memory for everyone, iSuppli says in a new study. The analyst group expects the average iPhone to carry over 35GB of storage after capacity upgrades across the line, or more than the 32GB maximum available today. Combined with a nearly 32 percent growth in iPhone shipments to 33 million, Apple's sheer dominance of NAND flash memory could lead to "periods of undersupply" in the rest of 2010.
Historically, Apple has always doubled the capacity on its flash-based devices each year and through memory technology advances could produce a 64GB iPhone as well as a 128GB iPod touch.
The situation is only expected to become worse due to added competition, as the Motorola Droid, Palm Pre, Google Nexus One and other handsets often deliberately try to match Apple's level of storage, either through microSDHC cards like the Droid's 16GB pack-in or the Pre's 8GB (now 16GB) of fixed memory.
Other categories may only prove to be minor factors. E-readers like the Kindle and Nook are growing in popularity, but seldom have more than 2GB of storage due to the very small file sizes of e-books. Tablets like the iPad have the potential to exacerbate supply problems with as much as 64GB of memory onboard, but without a clear indication of their success it's not clear whether these will impact the market as much as smartphones.