Samsung and other manufacturers allegedly involved in memory price-fixing scandal


One of the biggest news stories in the technology world was the massive increase in the price of PC graphics cards due to the Bitcoin mining craze, something that made building or buying a PC for gaming quite a bit less affordable than most would like.

What got less attention though, was the massive climb in memory prices in the last couple of months, meaning that getting hold of a stick or two of RAM for that dream gaming PC has been more expensive. A lot more expensive actually, as technology website Extremetech pointed out earlier this year. For instance, getting hold of 16 GB of memory (the amount you would expect to find in a high-end gaming PC) would cost $70 US dollars back in June 2016, while you can expect to pay more than $200 for this today depending on brand and speed.

Earlier this year, this was blamed on high demand from smartphone manufacturers, but now we know that there could be more than meets the eye behind this latest spike in RAM prices.

So say the people behind a class-action lawsuit (via PC Gamer) which was recently filed in the US, which alleges that the three major memory manufacturers (Samsung, Hynix and Micron) teamed up in a price-fixing scheme with the intention of driving up RAM prices. They did this by resorting to one of the oldest tricks in the book: restricting supply of memory chips so that demand couldn’t be met, and therefore prices would shoot up.

“Instead of playing by the rules, Samsung, Micron and Hynix chose to put consumers in a chokehold, wringing the market for more profit”, said a representative of Hagens Berman, the law firm representing the people behind the lawsuit.

The thing is that Samsung’s and the other company’s actions not only drove RAM prices up, but anyone buying a desktop PC, laptop, mobile phone, camera and other devices felt the sting too. And this is not the first time that Samsung is involved in a memory price-fixing scandal either, as the Asian company did plead guilty to similar charges more than a decade ago.

But regardless of which way this lawsuit goes, I don’t believe it will soil Samsung’s image much in the eyes of consumers, given that the company is one of the world’s most respected in the technology arena, and that’s likely to change much either way.

And looking on the bright side, if high memory prices are really the result of a price-fixing scheme between Samsung and the others, the fact this lawsuit has brought the matter to the fore means memory prices will likely begin dropping now, so maybe your next gaming PC won’t end up being as expensive as it might otherwise have been. Either way, keep following this website for more news on this latest tech scandal as it develops.

Samsung headquarters (link) [Creative Commons (link)]