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Music On MicroSD

New York — The four largest music companies plan in October to sell music albums on MicroSD memory cards for sale through brick-and-mortar stores and online stores.

The physical format, called SlotMusic, consists of SanDisk-made 1GB cards bearing MP3 music at up to 320kbps with no digital rights management (DRM) technology to control copying. Each card has the capacity to store liner notes, album art, videos and other creative content included by the artists, and consumers can load their own content on as well, the music companies said.

The industry touts the format as an easy way to acquire music without being dependent on a PC or Internet connection. The industry chose MicroSD to leverage the card format’s widespread use in music-playing cellphones, excluding the iPhone, and in many brands of MP3 players, excluding iPods. Apple’s products lack memory card slots.

Market research company IDC pointed out that more than 1.2 billion mobile phones will ship worldwide in 2008, exceeding the number of MP3 players and portable media players (PMPs) that will ship “by nearly an order of magnitude,” the company said. The trend is accelerating, IDC added.

Because the cards will be packaged with a USB reader, the industry also expects the physical format to be popular for playing back music on PCs, laptops, and a growing number of USB-equipped OEM and aftermarket car audio systems. The albums are compatible with desktop and laptop PCs based on the Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems.

Pricing and titles haven’t been announced, but the music industry said SlotMusic cards will be available in mid-October at brick-and-mortar and online stores throughout the United States, including Best Buy and Wal-Mart. A rollout will follow in Europe.