Flash memory makers are hoping that new products will boost their industry in the last three months of 2006.

Manufacturers have built more flash memory than the market has required so far this year in expectation of strong sales of flash memory-based products, including music players such as the iPod nano and iPod shuffle.

Demand has been weaker than anticipated, which has led to price declines.

New flash-based devices from Apple and Sony are (apparently) expected in the next 13-weeks, and flash memory makers are hoping this will boost the industry.

However, any delay in product launches from either company could affect the entire industry, a Dow Jones report claims.

"Apple and Sony will decide the destiny of the flash market in the fourth quarter," iSuppli analyst Nam Hyung Kim told Dow Jones. "Potential demand from Apple and Sony could consume up to 40 per cent of the global supply in the fourth quarter. But any delay in new product launches will blow away the supply-and-demand balance and will spur significant oversupply and price declines."

The report predicts that Apple will launch an 8GB iPod nano in the next few weeks, though some analysts point out that in the increasingly competitive market, a mere capacity upgrade may not be enough to keep the iPod market in the ascendant.