Electronics wholesaler Chinavasion.com is reporting that flash memory prices in climbed just over one pound (20 per cent) per module in the last fortnight, threatening Western gadget shoppers with higher prices this Christmas.

In the short term the price rises may have been initiated in reaction to Samsung's recent factory power failure at its flash memory plant.

Such a power outage could have set production back a week or more, meaning a world shortage of flash, Chinavision states.

Apple's demand for flash memory for its succesful iPhone and iPod products is creating a knock-on effect on flash memory prices. Apple is estimated to be consuming 25 per cent of global flash memory supply.

Chinavasion.com PR manager Rose Li observes: "Flash memory prices are known to be volatile, but this jump in prices is unusually severe and sudden." She warned the impact of the price hikes would in future be felt by consumers worldwide.

Smaller manufacturers of MP3 players have been forced to shut shop in reaction to the price rises, "because their orders just dried up," Li says.

"Delays, shortages, and eventually higher prices in the Western retail market in the run-up to Christmas," are the likely outcomes of the current flash memory price shift.