Micron this week announced plans to discontinue its Lexar removable media storage business as a part of the company’s strategy to shift to higher margin NAND flash-based products. The company intends to sell all or part of its Lexar business division, but promises to support existing customers during the transition period.

Lexar was spun off from Cirrus Logic in 1996 and then acquired by Micron in 2006 in a bid to market NAND flash media. More recently, approximately two years ago, Micron cut down the amount of NAND memory it supplied to spot market in a bid to concentrate on building its own products and thus earn higher profit margins. Last year the company announced plans to work with its clients to build software for their software storage offerings to further improve its profit margins, this time from various SSDs. In addition, the company disclosed plans to develop special memory solutions for emerging automotive applications (which will complement its embedded portfolio). This week Micron went even further and disclosed plans to cease selling Lexar branded products to consumers and OEMs as a part of its strategy to increase “opportunities in higher value markets and channels.” The portfolio of Lexar products includes memory cards and card readers, USB flash drives and even SSDs.

Given the competition on the market of retail removable media and storage drives, the withdrawal from such businesses may be logical for Micron, which feels increasing pressure from Samsung, Western Digital (SanDisk) and others amid lack of market growth in terms of NAND bits (at least, according to its own predictions). Meanwhile, the withdrawal also means that Micron will have to concentrate on production of SSD-grade memory, whereas any further removable storage-grade NAND that the company produces will have be sold on the open market. If someone buys the Lexar operations from Micron, the latter will likely sign some kind of exclusive supply agreement with the new owner, which means that it will keep developing the aforementioned NAND. SSD-grade memory is more expensive than chips for memory cards or USB flash drives. and for about a year Micron was the only company to sell its SSD-grade 3D NAND to third-party SSD vendors, possibly earning higher margins than by selling removable storage devices. However, NAND for the latter is typically used to test drive new production technologies and/or architectures before deploying them to make memory for SSDs.

Otherwise, looking at the bigger picture, Micron new alignment with regards to the removable storage market is not particularly unique. SK Hynix and Intel don't produce removable storage products either (at least, not under their own trademarks), leaving Samsung, Toshiba and Western Digital as the three remaining vendors who do. That said, while it will be sad to see Micron’s Lexar gone (assuming that nobody buys it), Micron’s withdrawal from removable storage business is not exactly surprising.

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Source: Micron

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  • kaidenshi - Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - link

    So this is why Target is having a clearance sale on all of their Lexar USB drives. $3 for 16GB drives, I grabbed a handful. That's cheaper than the faulty knock-offs from Alibaba! Reply
  • Kakti - Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - link

    I bought a Lexar 500gb USB 3.0 Type-A external ssd from Costco a month or two ago for about $215. Much better than all of the thumb drives it replaced for moving data to my offsite cold storage at a family member's house.

    I get writes of 70-75 MB/sec from other SSD or HDD, and reads range from a lwo of 60 to a high of 375 MB/sec depending on destination drive and filesize. Overall I'm very happy with the Lexar drive given its price, size and speed.

    I'm surprised there's no mention of Optane in the article - will Intel be selling it only under their name or will Micron sell their own branded version? If they do, what brand will it fall under?
    Reply
  • trivik12 - Thursday, June 29, 2017 - link

    Micron has Quantx which is its brand 3D XPoint. I think they will release it next year. Reply
  • Rayb - Thursday, June 29, 2017 - link

    That will be their shift to high margin NAND they're talking about.

    Intel's > Optane = Micron > QuantX should show up in enterprise first, followed by Crucial for consumers.
    Reply
  • Samus - Thursday, June 29, 2017 - link

    That's too bad, I really like Lexar drives :( Reply
  • Zak - Thursday, June 29, 2017 - link

    Ditto. One of my fav flash media brands :( Reply
  • lioncat55 - Thursday, June 29, 2017 - link

    I did support for Lexar for 3 years. This was not completely surprising. The people in part of Marketing and Product design did not know what they where doing. Products released without telling the support teams, not providing user guides. It's sad to see Lexar go, but not super surprising. Reply
  • jimjamjamie - Thursday, June 29, 2017 - link

    I guess Toshiba and Sandisk will fill the void left by Lexar in this case? When a player leaves a market like this do the competitors do anything differently? Reply
  • Santoval - Thursday, June 29, 2017 - link

    If their supply remains unchanged they raise prices for more profit margins, but not the point where they will choke the market. Reply
  • Santoval - Thursday, June 29, 2017 - link

    edit : "..not *to* the point.." Reply

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