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Columns & Editorials

September 9th, 1999

[8:00 AM]
Warning: Higher RAM Prices, Dead Ahead!
by Kyle D'Addario
If you have been doing any shopping over the last couple of weeks for memory for your computer, you have probably noticed some crazy happenings regarding RAM prices. Trans Intl. had 128MB memory modules for the Blue and White G3 listed at US$128 last week. Since then the price jumped to US$168, and finally to US$225 at the time of this writing. The same module at has gone from the mid-US$100 price range to US$249 during the same time frame.

According to experts in the memory market, the rise in RAM pricing is not over. President, Aaron Buckley, states that prices have "...more than doubled in the last two and a half months." While the consumer is aware of the price increase, most are unaware why. The bottom line is that component prices have shot up significantly. Mr. Buckley sites a number of reasons for the increase, including power outages in Taiwan and a failed modified manufacturing process at another major chip maker. However, the latest increase is an example of being victimized by one's own success...computers themselves are selling in record numbers. This has had a corresponding effect on RAM by pushing an already tight market even harder.

Ken Zaide from agrees. Mr. Zaide states that "Robust growth in the Telecommunication and Computer industry is the key. The amount of OEMs has exceeded the DRAM manufacturing capabilities to supply it right now." Mr. Zaide also said that during the booming stretch of computer memory, there were 18 or 19 manufacturers. Now there, "...are three or four."

What does this mean to the average consumer?

The industry in general has shifted toward more RAM intensive applications over the last few years for a number of reasons. The main one being that previous rock bottom memory prices have made it possible for developers to count on users having more of it. With a minimum of 32MB standard in every shipping computer, and most actually having at least 64MB out of the box, it is now possible to take software development to the next level. That is not going to change. Those who use RAM intensive applications, ranging from Netscape Communicator and Adobe Photoshop to Unreal and Quake, are going to feel the crunch. Memory requirements are not going to diminish, while it seems that prices are going to continue to rise in the near future.

As Mr. Buckley put it, "Unfortunately, this will translate into even higher prices for consumers."

This will have an affect on Apple too as what costs consumers more will also cost them. While it's doubtful that we will be seeing a price increase in existing product lines, it could mean that the next iteration of the iMac or PowerBook product line could have a higher price tag. Certainly adding RAM to a Mac at The Apple Store will continue to become more expensive.

This will also have at least some effect on Apple's bottom line, especially if they do not pass all of the price increases in base models directly to the consumer.

[Editor's Note: Trans Intl and Ramjet are both sponsors of The Mac Observer.]

Trans Intl - Ramjet - Apple

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