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Semiconductors

SK Hynix outplays Kioxia as world’s No.2 smartphone NAND flash maker

While it ranked No.4 in the overall NAND flash market, its strategy proved effective in the smartphone segment

By Jul 11, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

SK Hynix’s 176-layer NAND flash developed last year for mobile device uses.
SK Hynix’s 176-layer NAND flash developed last year for mobile device uses.

South Korea’s SK Hynix Inc. has clinched a surprise second spot in the world’s NAND flash market for smartphones.

According to the market research firm Strategy Analytics on July 11, Samsung Electronics Co. topped the sales in the smartphone NAND flash segment with a 42% share, followed by SK Hynix at 20%, growing 3 percentage points from the same period last year.

Over the same period, the share of Japan’s Kioxia Corp., last year’s runner-up in the segment, dropped by 2 percentage points to 19%.

Market analysts projected that SK Hynix is likely to maintain second place in the second quarter, driven by its aggressive marketing initiatives and pricing strategy.

“SK Hynix lately has been aggressive in both marketing and price negotiations. The company is growing its presence in the NAND flash sector, just like it did in the DRAM market,” said an industry analyst.

The analysts added that SK Hynix was also proactive in addressing the increased demand from Samsung and Apple, which have ramped up supplies this year amid the US sanction on Huawei and LG Electronics Inc. making an exit from its mobile phone business.  

SK Hynix noted that the company could post strong sales figures in the first quarter due to the rising demand for multi-chip packages (MCPs). MCP is a set of multiple chips integrated as a single module and thus provides larger capacities.

SK Hynix’s multi-chip package (Courtsey of SK Hynix)
SK Hynix’s multi-chip package (Courtsey of SK Hynix)

Smartphone MCPs, which combine DRAM chips and NAND flashes, are growing rapidly in demand as smartphone users now use much higher amounts of data.

“We could grow our NAND flash sales as more smartphone makers were adopting high-capacity MCPs on a wider range of their models,” said SK Hynix Vice President for Nand Marketing Park Chan-dong.

Meanwhile, in the overall NAND flash market, including those for smartphones, SK Hynix ranked fourth with a 12.2% market share. The total market was led by Samsung Electronics with 33.4%, followed by Kioxia with 18.4% and Western Digital Corp. with 14.2%.

SK Hynix is expected to be ranked second in the overall NAND flash market as well, after completing the acquisition of Intel’s NAND business, announced last October. SK Hynix received regulatory approval in the US in March and is in the process of receiving approval from other major countries.

Write to Shin-young Park at nyusos@hankyung.com

Daniel Cho edited this article.

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