Nokia gives SD cards its blessing

The Finnish mobile giant has at long last embraced Secure Digital storage - but Nokia phones supporting it are still a year away

Nokia is finally giving its backing to the SD (Secure Digital) memory standard.

The mobile phone operator announced on Tuesday that it has applied for membership of the SD Card Association and will include support for SD cards in many of its future devices.

Until now, Nokia has only supported the MMC (MultiMediaCard) format, but the growing popularity of SD Cards has forced Nokia to widen its portfolio of flash memory cards, explained Timo Poikolainen, Nokia's vice-president of technology marketing.

"The concept of removable memory in devices is now breaking through," Poikolainen told ZDNet UK, adding that SD Card slots are now commonly found in electronics devices such as printers and digital cameras.

"It has been a novelty in mobile devices, but now it's more normal."

The SD Card Association was formed in 2000, since when over 700 companies have become members, including rival mobile makers LG, Matsushita, Motorola, NEC, Samsung, Sharp, and Siemens. According to the Association's Web site, an 8GB SD card is under development.

IT news site The Inquirer reported back in June that the Association told delegates at Computex 2004 in Taipei that Nokia was risking isolation through its dependence on MMC.

According to Poikolainen, Nokia products with built-in SD Card slots will go on sale in the second half of 2005. MMC will still be supported in other products.

"MMC is a cheaper technology because there is no licence fee. It also needs a lower voltage. Devices that are optimised for cost or battery life will need MMC," said Poikolainen.

The future of mobile phone storage may not lie in flash memory at all. Samsung announced last week that it had built a mobile phone that contained a 1.5GB hard drive.

Poikolainen said that Nokia was looking at the potential of hard drives, but had no firm plans in this area.

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