The NAND Flash market has remained in oversupply for the whole year of 2018, according to DRAMeXchange, with sufficient inventories for notebook/smartphone OEMs.
The China-US trade war and the shortage of Intel CPU have made the situation worse on the supply side. In October, the contract prices of SSD, and eMMC/UFS witnessed continued fall, while the price drop of NAND Flash chips and wafers appeared to be larger, DRAMeXchange says.
The market of SLC NAND Flash chips is also affected as the China-US trade war simmers. "The market originally expected ZTE’s resumption of US business to boost demands from China’s netcom devices biddings in Q3, but the results turned out to be lower than expected", said DRAMeXchange analyst Ben Yeh, "and the sufficient inventories of netcom ODMs would influence the stock-up demand in the coming quarters". As the result, the market has seen an oversupply for SLC NAND Flash in Q4, driving down Q4 contract prices by 10-15%.
As for NAND Flash Wafer, the prices normally experience noticeable falls at quarter end when companies announce their financial results. However, as the companies expect their annual inventory checking, the stock-up demand is expected to grow weak for the period after this November. Due to the relatively negative demand outlook for NAND Flash applications in 1H19, which prompted some suppliers to resort to price cuts, the contract prices of the TLC NAND Flash wafers dropped by 13-17% monthly in October, the largest price fall for a single month since November 2017. Despite the coming year-end holiday sales, the impact of current price falls on the restocking demands of the module firms will not be significant in the short term. Therefore, DRAMeXchange expects a high possibility of further price declines in November and December.
Amid the recent overall price declines in the NAND Flash market, the drop in 3D TLC prices is sharper than the drop in 2D MLC prices, so more clients are switching to solutions based on the former architecture. With the demand shift, the price decline in 2D MLC prices has also extended to 4-10%.