Palm, Panasonic plug flash memory

Summary:To encourage the proliferation of flash memory, the companies are offering free Secure Digital media cards with certain purchases.

Handheld computing leader Palm and electronics conglomerate Panasonic announced Tuesday that they would offer free Secure Digital media cards with the purchase of select products.

The move is meant to encourage the proliferation of the storage format, facing stiff competition from established formats such as CompactFlash, Memory Stick, Smart Media and Multimedia Card.

Secure Digital is a postage stamp-size flash memory format developed by Panasonic, SanDisk and Toshiba for use in devices such as digital cameras, MP3 players, handhelds and cell phones. The format complies with Secure Digital Music Initiative standards intended to prevent unauthorized copying of copyrighted content. Capacities of the format run up to 64MB.

As part of the Palm-Panasonic promotion, Panasonic will provide mail-in offers for SD cards with the purchase of certain digital cameras, digital camcorders and SD-enabled audio products. Palm will offer free SD cards with the purchase of the Palm m125, m500 and m505 handhelds.

Research firm Web-Feet Research puts Secure Digital's share of the flash memory market at 10 percent to 15 percent, good enough for fourth place in the market. With flash memory prices at an all-time low, Web-Feet Research analyst Alan Niebel said now is a good time for SD promoters to kick the marketing blitz into overdrive.

Niebel said the Palm-Panasonic promotion is "savvy marketing, because people shied away from buying flash because of the high cost. But with prices falling over 50 percent, this is a way to get the public interested in the format."

He added that with similar marketing moves by other supporting companies--the format has 368 member companies as of Nov. 9, according to the SD Card Association's Web site--he expects the format to move up to third in market share by next year and second place in a couple more years.

Palm owners waiting for the Bluetooth-enabled SD card that Palm announced would be coming out this year will have to wait. On Monday, Palm said it was delaying the card but did not give a time frame for when it would be available.

Topics: Hardware

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