microSD music: Are we regressing?

microSD music: Are we regressing?

Summary: With all of this hoopla surrounding SanDisk's announcement of slotMusic, a product conceived in conjunction with record labels that involves DRM-free MP3s on (SanDisk's) microSD cards, I'm not convinced that we've actually advanced, technologically-speaking.

TOPICS: Hardware

SanDisk slotMusicWith all of this hoopla surrounding SanDisk's announcement of slotMusic, a product conceived in conjunction with record labels that involves DRM-free MP3s on (SanDisk's) microSD cards, I'm not convinced that we've actually advanced, technologically-speaking.

TechCrunch's Michael Arrington has a few choice words for SanDisk and its record label ilk, questioning why the record labels fell for the technology and citing the cost involved in making such a product along with the practicality of an alternative like a USB drive. GigaOM's Om Malik predicts outright failure.

But my question is this: Since technology in this decade has allowed music to travel without a medium attached to it, and the current business model charges only for the music itself and no longer the medium that used to come with it, it makes me wonder why a company is trying to monetize something the public has clearly moved away from.

Sure, the music's DRM-free, but a microSD is a lot harder (and more expensive) to come by and use than downloaded music -- content in an almost unadulterated form.

What do you think? Tell us in TalkBack.

Topic: Hardware

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • This would work for me

    Since I have never downloaded a single song of the web and more then likely never will I like this. For me music is an impulse buy, if I'm in Best Buy and see a CD I want I buy it.
    • You and 27 million teenagers

      are the bread-and-butter of the commercial music industry. Impulse buyers, motivated by traditional packaging (flashy covers) still provide the lion's share of the revenues, and the highest revenue pullthrough (you will pay for 12 songs just to get one hit). So they don't want you to use iTunes or even buy this new music-on-a-chip, they want you to keep doing what you are doing for the rest of eternity; their kids' college tuition depends on it.

      For the rest of us, this new model is fatally flawed; it costs MORE to make the medium and packaging, it's compatible with FEWER playback devices, and it delivers SUBSTANDARD quality and ease of use compared to the current delivery mechanisms (online and CD).

      I see this as a futile attempt to rope in people who are technically-oriented and who currently download or "trade" with others, mainly students and young professionals. It has a certain hi-tech appeal, and it has the benefit of song-pullthrough (you pay for songs you probably don't want) just like CDs.

      But it is still a bad deal for consumers, so people should wise up pretty quickly. Then again, the diet and vitamin salesmen still make billions every year, so betting on the gullibility of the shopping public is not a bad thing ...
      terry flores
  • What about playback hardware?

    Aside from some cell phones, which are mediocre at best in audio quality, what other hardware already on the market will be able to play the music? And would any current MP3 maker in their right mind re-engineer their players to accept the cards? I doubt it. Especially not Apple, they have no reason whatsoever to do so.
    • I have one!

      But surprise, It's made by SanDisk! Otherwise, i agree, the idea is pretty worthless.
    • Me too!

      SanDisk has 1GB, 2GB, 4GB and 8GB SSD mp3/video players that accept microSD cards up to 8GB in a slot that helps expand overall storage space. Most of the players are less than $100 and the 8GB SSD models tend to cost around $125. They sound great and are easy to use. An excellent alternative to iPod if you don't mind using Windows Media Player in order to load songs -- almost counter-intuitive is WMP. iTunes only works with iPods unfortunately and the ease of use is light years better than WMP.
      • iTunes has more 'ease of use' than WMP?

        I don't think so. I think that, once you get over the
        'Apple hype', you see that they are pretty near the same
        in terms of ease of use.

        I used Windows Media Player to load songs onto my
        father's cell phone... no problems whatsoever.
    • RE: What about playback hardware?

      The COWON D2 takes SD cards, and is a spiffy little player! Also the O2 and L3 have card readers.

      Check out: iaudiophile.net for the inside scoop.
    • Me four!

      I've got a couple of RCA Lyra players that have SD slots, which should work with an adapter card.

      Rio also made some players that accept SD cards.

      These also run on AAA cells, so you can swap in a fresh battery instantly without having to wait for the player to recharge.
  • RE: microSD music: Are we regressing?

    One thing I think you overlook is those who simply don't, won't, or can't back up their PCs/music and therefore like having a place to restore from... Compared to a stack of CDs and cases, the neat little boxes and stuff CaseLogic will come out with will take a lot less space and provide the safety some will appreciate.

    BTW, I am not one of them. I backup all my music to a NAS Raid array but I know people who just... well...

    you know.
    • I use DVD's to back-up

      And I can usually fit about 20-40 CD's with 320kbps
      mp3's on one DVD.
      Personally, I wish the CD would go the way of the dodo,
      the music companies would get real and realize that they
      are charging too much for music, and that USB sticks
      would become the mode of choice for music distribution
      alongside the internet.
  • RE: microSD music: Are we regressing?

    It would be too easy to lose MicroSD as it is very small.... :(
  • Instant Gratification

    You can't buy a CD and load it onto your iPod without a PC or Mac. You can't download an album untethered unless you have a wireless phone. If you use a wireless provider you are subject to their limited catalog of music and their prices.

    This device offers a way to legally acquire DRM free music, access it instantly no matter what device you have on hand, and transfer the content to virtually any device you own. As long as it's priced about the same as a CD I'm in.
    • Instant gratification == sucker

      The problem with instant gratification is that it costs so much. There are people who can afford it, and there are people who don't know any better, but I don't fit into either of these categories.

      "You can't buy a CD and load it onto your iPod without a PC or Mac."

      Actually, I can't listen to a CD *without* putting it into a PC, because that's my main playback unit, has been since college. The current PC is the main unit of my home theater system, and when I put in a CD and push a button, it rips the CD to my library, puts it in the onscreen catalog, and starts playing the music. Is it instant? No, it takes about 10 minutes. And of course the music is available to be downloaded to my personal music player (non-iPod) and to be burned onto a throwaway MP3 CD for my car.

      A couple of years ago, I bought 300 blank CDs at $15 for a spindle of 100 ($45). Every week or two, I burn 2 new CDs with MP3 songs, podcasts, and audiobooks for my car. I take the oldest ones in the car changer out and toss them in the trash. Per month, it costs me less than a cup of coffee at McDonalds (not to mention Starbucks). And I've never lost or scratched even one store-bought CD.

      My niece is 15, and she buys a new CD almost every week (my brother gives her way too much allowance). So she spends $750 a year on music CDs, for a lot of stuff where she listens to only one or two songs on the CD. She was making the transition to iPod, I got her one last Christmas, and she promptly downloaded $200 worth of songs from iTunes. Then she lost the iPod 3 months later. Now she's back to CDs and a Walkman ... and she loses or scratches one almost every week.

      The moral of the story is that instant gratification costs real money, and that being a little logical and planning ahead can save you a lot of money.
      terry flores
  • If it was 2GB, with 24-bit Studio Master files

    Then we could talk! Currently the online distribution at Linn Records for 96/24 FLAC files is too bandwidth intensive.

    Going BEYOND CD-"quality" of the 80's would be a very compelling thing for audiophiles--and regular people too, once they heard the difference.
    • MicroSD as a format

      MicroSD as a removable format makes more sense than limiting it to just being a CD replacement with just mp3s. With the demise of Minidisc and DAT, there would be a place for it, if it were marketed right.
  • RE: microSD music: Are we regressing?

    Of course that would not work...
    How many of us take out many CDs and don't place them back into their boxes until we've got a pile?
    We'd lose them, and not only that. Exactly as the article mentions, we're getting rid of the physical media. My personal music collection is of about 600 whole albums. Would I need 600 microSDs that would get all messed up??
    Of course not.
    If it's to come back to physical media, I'd prefer LP records.
    I think it will be a total failure.
    BTW, it also takes a lot more to go into a store than to download the whole album.
    Definitely not a good one.
  • microSD is Sexy -- USB is Fat and Ugly

    I think it's cool. We just need to start building more
    microSD slots into things.
  • Sonova!

    I did it again! *WHY* do you have the buttons in the
    order of "reply to story" and THEN "reply to message"?
    ? For crying out loud they should be the other way
    around. :@
  • RE: microSD music: Are we regressing?

    I would rather make my music microSD card with music I already purchased.
    CD & DVD music is fine for me; with them I can customize a microSD card with only the songs or music I want to listen to, like my own Greatest Hits or like an ipod. Freedom to listen to what I like.

  • RE: microSD music: Are we regressing?

    what are you talking about? (aside from my smartphone which gets excellent quality through my bose noise cancelling headphones) PLENTY of mp3 players used sdcards of some kind and recently just upped compact flash as MY favorite non-volatile memory. MicroSD is the portable memory format to go with cause of it's size. (granted they're easier to loose) but I carry half a dozen behind the battery of my phone (and including the one in the slot) totals 28 gigs of memory. It'll be standard and popular for a long time. However this propriatary bs won't last... it never does.