The rumor mill has been churning on this one for the last few days, but it's now as official as it's ever apt to get: Apple has decided to splash out the $500 million to buy Israeli flash-chip outfit Anobit. The fabless designer of MLC NAND flash chips should be a good fit, given Cupertino's reliance on solid state storage technology for its iPad, iPod, iPhone and Macbook Air lines. With $84 billion in the bank, the purchase has cost the company just over half a percent of its war chest, and we're guessing it'll just barely feel the pinch when said funds are transferred over. The story was originally reported in the Calcalist financial daily newspaper, with the verified Twitter account of the Prime Minister of Israel chiming in with the following:
"Welcome to Israel, Apple Inc. on your [first] acquisition here. I'm certain that you'll benefit from the fruit of the Israeli knowledge."
Moreover, Apple's expected to open up a research and development center in the nation, marking its first outside of the USA. If history has anything to say about it, we highly doubt Apple will ever open its mouth one way or the other on this, but it'll be interesting to see what related nuggets are uncovered in the company's next quarterly filing with the SEC.

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Apple buys flash storage maker Anobit for $500 million, aims to establish R&D lab in Israel