Asian technology shares gained, helped by hopes for a recovery in battered chip prices and expectations that nimble Asian firms may slow the runaway success of Apple Inc after news CEO Steve Jobs was taking medical leave.

Shares of Samsung Electronics Co, the world's top memory chipmaker and No.2 handset vendor, jumped 2.6 percent on Tuesday to record highs and second-ranked memory chip maker Hynix Semiconductor rose 3.5 percent.

In Japan, Elpida Memory rose 2.6 percent and Taiwan's Powerchip rose 3.7 percent.

The report of Elpida's price rise plan points to similar moves by domestic (Korean) chip makers and strengthens sentiment toward the sector, said Daewoo Securities analyst James Song.

DRAM prices are expected to continue to recover this year.


Deemed irreplaceable by many Apple fans and investors, pancreatic cancer survivor Jobs said on Monday he would take medical leave, for the third time since 2004. The announcement, which came just a day ahead of the company's quarterly results, did not specify why or for how long he would be absent, unlike the previous one.

The announcement revived concerns over the long-term future of Apple, sending its shares tumbling close to 10 percent, although Jobs said Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook would take responsibility for day-to-day operations once again.

The impact of the Apple news could be mixed on the Asian technology sector. Many firms, including Taiwan-based Hon Hai, South Korea's LG Display and even Apple's emerging rival Samsung depend on the iPhone and iPad maker by manufacturing the hot selling devices and by supplying display, chips, phone cases and other accessories.

But analysts said the impact on Apple's operations and its Asian rivals and partners should be limited in the short term, since its product line-up was strong, although his absence would be a worry if it became prolonged. Cook ran day-to-day operations during Jobs' last absence in 2009.

Apple's suppliers may drop on negative sentiment, but as you see this morning, the news had no impact on the Taiwan tech companies, a senior vice president of KGI Securities said.


Shares in Hon Hai, which counts Apple as its major client, fell 0.4 percent and LG Display rose 1 percent, while smartphone maker HTC was unchanged.

Jobs' latest medical leave also comes at a time when it faces the biggest threat from Google, through its Android mobile operating system, which has seen torrid growth as preferred choice of both iPhone and iPad rivals.

Samsung, at the forefront of the long queue of rivals determined to halt Apple's stunning run of success, appears to remain a key threat.

Samsung has sold 10 million units of the Android-powered Galaxy S smartphone since its June launch and 1 million units of the Galaxy Tab tablet since October.

It has also launched the Nexus S smartphone recently based on the latest version of Android and plans a series of new product launches in February to double its smartphone sales this year to at least 50 million units.

Android has rapidly overtaken Apple and Research in Motion's BlackBerry to become the second-most popular platform worldwide after Nokia's Symbian, and the most popular in North America and east Asia.

But a fast rise of competitors adopting Android phones would mean little differentiation and weaker profit margin compared to Apple's estimated 40 percent-plus margins on the iPhone.

On Tuesday, Apple is likely to report its quarterly revenue jumped more than 50 percent, backed by surging sales across its product lines including iPhone and iPad.

Strong sales of such devices and ensuing launches of copycat products by the likes of Lenovo Group, Motorola and Research In Motion are set to drive up demand of NAND-type flash memory chips used in mobile devices, benefiting key producers such as Samsung, Hynix and Toshiba.

(Additional reporting by Tim Kelly in TOKYO, Clare Jim in TAIPEI; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)