SanDisk's music-on-flash gamble - will it work?

Summary:SanDisk and several record companies are announcing a new way to buy MP3s: slotMusic. They are loading the music on flash memory - micro-SD cards it looks like.

SanDisk and several record companies are announcing a new way to buy MP3s: slotMusic. They are loading the music on flash memory - micro-SD cards it looks like. Will this work?

Compared with downloadable MP3s, there are a couple of advantages.

First, you get the flash media. That is worth something. Secondly, presumably you get a decent copy of the album art and whatever liner notes exist - if people still do liner notes.

Many of us already have devices that can play MP3s off flash. So there is no need to buy and learn another device.

These are not large advantages but they are more than you get with MP3 downloads.

The Storage Bits take I give SanDisk props for trying, but not much chance of success. Bits just want to be floating free on the network. Not tied down to a chip.

The record companies have a difficult business problem: they make more money selling albums than single tracks. But single tracks are what people buy on iTunes, the nation's largest music retailer.

The brick and mortar stores that sell music also have a difficult problem. Most people have decided that iTunes provides a better music buying experience than stores do.

You can listen to samples, get good suggestions for similar music, easily buy single tracks or entire albums and rapidly download and distribute your new music to multiple devices.

No packages to unwrap, no credit card to swipe, no physical stuff to store.

The record companies are wasting their time trying to hold back the tide. They need to be looking at, as some already have, whether it even makes sense to put some artists on iTunes. Make people buy an entire CD album in order to get the popular song and, perhaps, discover what else the artist has to offer.

Once the music is on iTunes the labels can put together compilations of popular and not-so-popular but deserving tracks to encourage buyers to expand their musical horizons.

What is not going to happen is a return to the days when people would buy physical media as a general rule. Downloading is too convenient and practical to be replaced by any physical media.

Comments welcome, of course. Update: I added the name and the format of the flash device.

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Hardware


Robin Harris is Chief Analyst at TechnoQWAN LLC, a storage research and consulting firm he founded in 2005. Based in Sedona, Arizona, TechnoQWAN focuses on emerging technologies, products, companies and markets. Robin has over 35 years experience in the IT industry and earned degrees from Yale and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton... Full Bio

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