The technology industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the increasing demand for data storage, advancements in mobile and wearable devices, and the growing popularity of cloud computing, as well as growing importance of technologies such as NAND and NOR flash memory architectures, 3D stacking techniques to increase storage density, and advanced manufacturing processes to improve performance and reliability. In the last three years alone, there have been over 4.1 million patents filed and granted in the technology industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in technology: non-volatile flash memoryBuy the report here.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

190+ innovations will shape the technology industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the technology industry using innovation intensity models built on over 1.5 million patents, there are 190+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, aural exciters, in-memory computing, and network-on-a-chip are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. RAID transmission error detection, projector-camera system, and hyperspectral imaging, and surround sound systems are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are digital image interpolation and distributed RAID drives, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the technology industry

Non-volatile flash memory is a key innovation area in technology

Non-volatile flash memory refers to a category of memory composed of semiconductor devices that retain data even in the absence of power. It finds widespread use in various consumer electronics, including digital cameras, USB flash drives, and video game consoles.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established technology companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of non-volatile flash memory.

Key players in non-volatile flash memory – a disruptive innovation in the technology industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to non-volatile flash memory

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
eMemory Technology 4 Unlock Company Profile
Funai Electric 4 Unlock Company Profile
ZTE 9 Unlock Company Profile
Silicon Motion Technology 28 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 17 Unlock Company Profile
Apple 20 Unlock Company Profile
Alibaba Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 17 Unlock Company Profile
CEA 6 Unlock Company Profile
Phison Electronics 19 Unlock Company Profile
Renesas Electronics 5 Unlock Company Profile
Acer 4 Unlock Company Profile
Infineon Technologies 9 Unlock Company Profile
SanDisk 11 Unlock Company Profile
IBM 50 Unlock Company Profile
STMicroelectronics 8 Unlock Company Profile
Macronix International 16 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 61 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 62 Unlock Company Profile
Pure Storage 9 Unlock Company Profile
Micron Technology 188 Unlock Company Profile
MOSAID Technologies 23 Unlock Company Profile
Kioxia 6 Unlock Company Profile
Sandisk Technologies 17 Unlock Company Profile
Ace Kai Hynix 8 Unlock Company Profile
The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Micron Technology is the top patent filer in the non-volatile flash memory landscape. One of the company’s patents focuses on apparatuses and methods for memory operations on data. One example method involves performing an operation where a first managed unit is written to a second managed unit, and the first managed unit is then placed in a free state. The first managed unit is positioned at a specific distance from the second managed unit.

Other prominent patent filers in the space include Intel and Toshiba.

By geographic reach, MOSAID Technologies leads the pack, followed by Apple and ZTE. In terms of application diversity, Renesas Electronics holds the top position, followed by Micron Technology and Intel.

Non-volatile flash memory can retain stored data even when the power is turned off. It offers several advantages over traditional volatile memory, including higher storage capacity, faster access times, and lower power consumption. Such memory also offers the advantage of persistent data storage, allowing users to access their stored information reliably and conveniently, even after power cycles or system shutdowns.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the technology industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Technology.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.