Apple is one of several companies in the running to buy Toshiba’s NAND memory unit, according to a report from the Korean Herald. Apple, Amazon, and Google, among others, are said to be involved in a bidding war for the business, which accounts for 20 percent of the NAND market.
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The report says that their are 10 bidders in total looking to buy Toshiba’s NAND unit, though specific price points aren’t clear at this point. According to a separate report from Nikkei, however, U.S. equity form Silver Lake and chipmaker Broadcom offered 2 trillion yen, or $18 billion, for the business. That would mark a monumental acquisition for Apple at that price.
“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.
It had previously been reported that Apple suppliers TSMC and Foxconn were teaming up to acquire Toshiba’s NAND business, but today’s report marks the first we’ve heard about Apple itself working acquire it. It’s possible, however, that Foxconn and TSMC are negotiating on behalf of Apple or that local media has confused Foxconn’s efforts with Apple individually.
The “most attractive bidder” at this point, according to today’s report, is Western Digital – which already owns a large share of the NAND market. Foxconn is considered the “least attractive” option because Toshiba and the Japanese government do not want to sell to a Chinese company due to “technology leak concerns.”
As we noted earlier this month, Apple (or Foxconn) acquiring Toshiba’s NAND unit would give the company a leg up on Samsung, which currently is one of the more dominant players in the NAND market. The move would allow Apple to further reduce its reliance on other companies and bring some of its NAND flash needs in house.
Currently, Apple relies on flash storage from both Samsung and Toshiba for its various products. For example, teardowns of this year’s iPhone 7 Plus revealed Toshiba-supplied NAND flash while the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar relies on Samsung-supplied flash storage.