Let’s not jump to any conclusions. Maybe they just want to redecorate the Cupertino campus, and they thought covering the walls in 8Gb (gigabit, not byte) flash chips would be original and visually appealing.
Actually, that’s probably the last possible reason Apple recently placed a massive order for 100 million 8Gb chips from their suppliers, most of which will come from Samsung, according to DigiTimes, the source of the report. Yes, that is a lot of chips, and apparently the whole industry will feel the strain as the NAND flash supply will be pretty tight up until the end of May, thanks to fairly large orders by Sony and Nokia, in addition to Apple.
In case you didn’t guess, Apple is most likely going to be using the new chips for the new iPhone that’s been all but confirmed as due this June in time for WWDC ‘09. The tiny chips can be combined by Apple into larger configurations of 16GB and 32GB sizes, which is what most are expecting from the new iPhone models. For those still skeptical about the new iPhone’s imminent launch, the same thing happened last year around this time before the release of the iPhone 3G, except that time the order was only half the size. Which doesn’t mean Apple is planning on producing double the launch units, but that those units will almost definitely have double the storage capacity.
No one on the frugal side of the family is considering an iPhone until they get down to that $99 price point. Still – though smartphones are the strongest portion of the cellular market right now – that’s a lot of confidence on Apple’s part.