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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  • Tams80 - Saturday, July 1, 2017 - link

    Toshiba are looking to sell off their NAND business, which could mean WD end up being a player (they already are, as joint owners of Toshiba's NAND business). However, Toshiba rejected WD's offer and WD have prevented Toshiba from selling to a group of investors.

    Sandisk aren't doing too well, but are still around.

    Sony also have flash drives, but I'm fairly certain they use Toshiba stuff and just rebrand it.
  • jabber - Thursday, June 29, 2017 - link

    I'm really disappointed and sad at this. I've been pretty much exclusively Lexar for USB sticks for the past 203 years. The reason being their USB3.0 sticks (unlike Corsair/Sandisk) actually have decent USB3.0 performance. Most of the other brands usually really suck with 30MBps Write speeds. Folks should snap up the Pro P20 USB drive as the performance is awesome. I have the 64MB version and snapped up a 128GB when I read this news two days ago before they vanish for good.
  • jabber - Thursday, June 29, 2017 - link

    Thats 2-3 years, not 203 years. One day this site will become a 21st Century site.
  • bug77 - Thursday, June 29, 2017 - link

    Ah, I thought you were really, really loyal.
  • milkod2001 - Thursday, June 29, 2017 - link

    As it says at footer area: The Most Trusted in Tech Since 1997 it also keep those 1997 tech standards :)))
  • Wolfpup - Thursday, June 29, 2017 - link

    Dang, I like those Lexar memory card readers. Actually WORK as opposed to the garbage off brands.

    I liked being able to by Micron for SD cards too...

    Didn't realize Western Digital bought Seagate. Guess I'll be using them mostly now.
  • Bruce427 - Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - link

    About a year ago, I purchased a Lexar 128GB P20 JumpDrive based on advertised specs (Sequential Read Speed:400 MB/s, Write Speed: 270 MB/s).

    However, using ATTO Benchmark and CrystalDiskMark the drive couldn't even reach 200 MB/s on either Read or Write.

    So I returned it for exchange and the replacement did even worse. I then returned that drive for credit and purchased one from a different supplier hoping to get one from a different "batch."

    The third one was able to hit 200 MB/s, but that was it. After three tries, I decided the performance issue was with the drives themselves.

    I returned it for credit and purchased a SanDisk 128GB Extreme Pro. At 260 MB/s Read, and 240 MB/s Write, its performance was rated at considerably less than the Lexar -- but it more than met specs (272 MB/s Read and 255 MB/s Write). And it did out perform all three Lexars and by a considerable margin.

    That experience put me off of Lexar flash drives. And in the lower price ranges, the Sandisk Extreme series far out performs the similarly priced Lexars (but the Lexars look better).
  • X86guru - Wednesday, July 26, 2017 - link

    +1 on this!! Lexar is and always has been crap when it came to performance and consistency... Sandisk is by far the best flash drive company out with the Sandisk Extreme usb offerings for budget performance (untouched) and Extreme Pro for SSD flash performance, mind you with a lifetime warranty. I personally own a computer repair company and do multiple 10+GB transfers a day to cusomer's computers via mainly the Sandisk Extreme 32GB drives and always see great speeds which translates into less labor cost and more profit. I also am the proud owner of a 1st gen Sandisk Extreme Pro 128GB which has always been awesome for the couple years I've had it, it even made it's way through the washer and dryer with no issue. I recently purchased the Extreme Pro 3.1 and am super happy with that as well. Samsung, Lexar, and the other vendors have nothing on this.

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