The microSD card took another leap forward this week as electronics giant Samsung announced it had developed an 8-GB version, the largest capacity in that format so far. The increased capacity points to several possible developments in the world of media phones.
The microSD card is used in cell phones and other mobile devices, and is especially useful for storing the large amounts of media files that users are carrying around with them.
The Seoul, South Korea-based company said that the new card, the size of a fingernail, can carry up to 2,000 MP3 music files, 4,000 digital photos, or approximately five DVD-quality movies. The new cards will have a read speed of 16 MB/sec and a write speed of 6 MB/sec.
Two Possible Trends
Currently, the largest microSD is a SanDisk 4 GB, noted IDC analyst Chris Hazelton, and Samsung's new card won't be out until mid-2008. But he said that the 8-GB card points to two possible trends in the development of multimedia mobile devices.
First, there's Apple's new iPhone, out next month. Like a giant planet that warps the gravitational field around it, the iPhone is affecting everything around it.
Hazelton noted that the iPhone will have up to an 8-GB flash disk. "But any phone that follows the microSD format can now, with the new Samsung card, have as much storage as a $600 iPhone," he pointed out. The new Moto Z8 from Motorola, announced this week, is capable of handling up to 32 GB of microSD memory when that capacity becomes available.
The other media phone makers, he said, are going to cast the battle with iPhone, at least in part, as "card-swapping versus a proprietary, closed" device.
Asked if he thought the iPhone's price was largely driven by how it handles storage, Hazelton said it was more likely driven by "Apple's desire not to compete with its own sales of iPods." This means that Apple's price-setting, to some substantial degree, requires jockeying with itself.
The second possible trend could be prerecorded or "library" cards, he suggested, especially as the cards get even larger. One of the most interesting aspects of Motorola's announced 2007 lineup this week, he said, was the deal with Universal Pictures that was tucked into the Z8 information.
In that arrangement, the Z8 comes bundled with the movie "The Bourne Identity," preloaded on a 512-MB microSD card. "The beauty of this," he said, "is that you'll be able to swap out your memory cards and insert branded or prerecorded content."
About a quarter the size of SD cards, which are frequently used in digital cameras and other devices, microSD cards can be used via an extender to display on SD-based devices.