Could SanDisk's plans for a music format get interrupted by Samsung?

SanDisk's potential acquisition, either by hostile Samsung, white knight Toshiba, or some other vendor, is likely to have little effect on its slotMusic product, said an analyst who has been watching the potential acquisition.

"Given that the acquisition, if and when it happens, is several months out, nobody can say," said Jim Handy, the Los Gatos, Calif.-based director of Objective Analysis, a semiconductor market research firm. "If Samsung is true to their word and allows SanDisk to continue to operate as a separate entity, then the service could continue."

On the other hand, though, the product could fail for reasons having nothing to do with an acquisition, Handy said. "Keep in mind, though, that SanDisk tries numerous initiatives over the course of a year and those that don't meet with acceptance are abandoned. It is quite possible that the service could fail to pass muster before the acquisition does or does not take place."

Earlier this month, SanDisk and #1 flash memory producer Samsung were apparently in friendly merger talks. Those talks evidently broke down last week. SanDisk holds a considerable amount of intellectual property in flash memory, not just for things like microSD but also multi-level cell (MLC) technology. That's how it can get by with about a one-third stake in the flash memory card business in the US, while not being a major NAND flash supplier elsewhere, including for embedded devices.

Samsung, meanwhile, has a 42.3% market share worldwide in NAND flash overall, according to analysis firm iSuppli. It currently pays IP royalties to SanDisk, though the amount of those royalties has almost always been a sticking point between the two companies. Toshiba -- the world's #2 player, with a 27.5% market share in Q2 2008 -- is believed to be more of a "white knight," interested in SanDisk's IP certainly but also in maintaining its brand and its current projects.

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