Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

SanDisk’s Steve Jobs flashback

May 19, 2009

For Steve Jobs, the right price was just a matter of timing.

During an interview at the Reuters technology summit, the chief executive of flash memory maker SanDisk recalled an encounter years ago with the Apple chief executive, who was then working on a secret, exotic new MP3 player. It was to be called the iPod.

“We were already in music players,” said Eli Harari. “Steve wanted a one gigabyte flash memory for $100 in the year 2000, because he could get for $100 a 1.8 inch drive from Toshiba and he preferred flash.”
Jobs liked flash because it was smaller, faster and consumed less power than a disk drive — all vital for a better iPod.

“He was really a very, very early adapter for flash,” said Harari. In the end, they couldn’t do the deal because flash cost too much to produce. At least back then, anyway.

“We could not sell one gigabyte for $100,” Harari said. Recalling the price crashes of late 2008, Harari added wistfully: “In the fourth quarter it was 90 cents for one gigabyte.”

A few years after 2000, Jobs got his flash memory from Samsung at a bargain price, Harari said.  After that, flash memory became far more common in MP3 players.

“That’s what started it,”  Harari said.

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