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Cellphones: Thanks For The Memory

Port Washington, N.Y. — Retail-level sales of cellular handsets with removable memory are surging but still represent a small share of overall handset sales, The NPD Group found in a survey of cellular purchasers.

In the first quarter of 2006, the percentage of cellphones sold with removable memory slots hit 6 percent, up from 2005’s fourth-quarter 5 percent, the third quarter’s 4 percent, and the second quarter’s 2 percent. Though the shares are single-digit, they nonetheless represent large gains in the number of handsets sold with memory slots. Sales of memory-card-capable handsets rose more than 250 percent from 567,000 in the second quarter of 2005 to 2 million in the first quarter of this year, NPD said.

Memory cards inserted into the slots can be used to store music, video and photos.

Removable media has moved from mostly high-end smartphones to more mainstream models, NPD analyst Neil Strother noted. “In the past, you’d see this feature available on Palm Treos or Windows Mobile devices, but now removable media is showing up on more affordable phones, like Motorola’s E815, LG’s VX-8300 and Samsung’s A-950.”

In the first quarter, microSD slots dominated in the cellphone market, NPD said. MicroSD slots were available in almost half of all phones sold with removable media slots. In second place, miniSD slots were installed in 31 percent of removable-media phones sold in the first quarter. 