Apple's choice of flash memory in its iPod nano signals a future industry struggle for the storage business.

While hard drive manufacturers are unlikely to allow flash memory makers an easy route to more markets, the opportunity to enter markets, such as computer drives, seems clear.

A report on Business Week looks at the inexorable march of flash memory makers, as sales of such chips grew from $2.3 billion in 2002 to an anticipated $10.1 billion this year. Incidentally, Apple's flash partner Samsung holds 60 per cent of that market.

On September 29 Samsung announced a £33 billion investment scheme to expand its flash chip-making capacity.

During this announcement, Samsung CEO Hwang Chang Gyu said: "Flash memory will eventually replace all mobile storage devices - film, tapes, CDs, and hard-disk drives."

The report speculates that as capacities grow and prices fall (both on a 50 per cent year-on-year curve), it's only a matter of time until flash-memory computers appear, offering greater advantages in terms of power, weight and responsiveness.