DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce, reports that the bit output from the NAND Flash industry in 2018 turned out to be higher than expected, as suppliers had steady yields of their 64-layer 3D NAND production. NAND Flash demand, however, has remained sluggish due to the looming trade war between China and the U.S., the shortage of Intel CPUs, and the lower-than-expected sales of new iPhone devices, despite the year-end busy season.
Looking ahead to the first half of 2019, NAND Flash manufacturers have tried to slow down their production capacity expansion, but the seasonal headwinds and high inventory levels would only intensify oversupply concerns in the market. Contract prices of NAND Flash products in 1Q19 are expected to drop further by around 10%.
DRAMeXchange points out that the eMMC/UFS sector has seen a steeper price decline in 4Q18, since Chinese smartphone manufacturers attempt to consume inventories and adjust production plans by the end of the year. The inventory consumptions are expected to continue in 1Q19, so the contract prices of eMMC/UFS products would witness further fall of nearly 10%.
As for the trend in the SSD market, DRAMeXchange expects Client SSD contract prices to fall by nearly 10% in 1Q19. The global notebook shipments for 1Q19 are estimated to decrease slightly by over 15% QoQ, the bit demand for SSD will grow more sluggish and prices will grow weaker, despite the increasing SSD adoption rate in the PC market and the memory content upgrades.
Enterprise SSD market has become a battleground for all manufacturers as the demand for servers keeps growing, which will make the price competition more intense in 2019. For the first quarter of next year, the Enterprise SSD contract prices would also fall by more than 10% considering the seasonal headwinds.
With regard to the demand in channel market, module makers have abundant supply this year, but as the NAND Flash prices continue to fall, module makers need to clear their inventories at the end of each month to cut loss. They even have to sell defective products to keep profitability, which is rather disruptive in the market. While major NAND Flash suppliers make a good profit this year, module makers are struggling with the worsening profitability. Looking ahead, the market situation is highly likely to remain tough for module makers in 1H19.