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SanDisk Targets Cellphones For T-Flash Cards

SanDisk introduced a cellular-phone memory-card format that combines the space-saving benefit of embedded flash memory with the flexibility of removable flash-storage cards.

Called T-Flash, the miniature card is one-quarter the volume of the smallest removable flash cards on the market today, allowing handset manufacturers to incorporate significant amounts of removable storage capacity into small handsets. SanDisk also envisions retailers selling memory upgrades at the point of purchase.

Volume card production is expected to begin in the second quarter with capacities that range from 32MB to 128MB. Retail pricing will be announced in April.

T-Flash will differ from other removable SanDisk cards geared toward cellphones, including MiniSD and MMC, the company contended. T-Flash memory cards, for example, are meant to be semi-permanent. They will be inserted beneath a phone’s battery, not inserted into an external slot. For that reason, the cards will be used to store applications, such as address books and games, meant to reside on a phone for long periods. The cards could migrate to newer handsets when customers upgrade their phone.

“We don’t envision people using these cards like an SD card, frequently removing them from the phone,” said Rex Sabio, product marketing manager for OEM marketing.

The T-Flash card “is ideal to transport subscriber data and settings from an older T-flash enabled phone to a new one, or if a user finds himself in need of more memory, the cards provide an easy way to increase a phone’s storage capacity,” Sabio said.

T-Flash has about half the footprint of a SIM card and features built-in content protection for content downloads.

The first phones scheduled to ship with T-Flash memory are the E1000 and A1000 W-CDMA phones from Motorola. They will offer 32MB T-Flash cards, Sabio said. U.S. availability of the 900/1,800/1,900MHz models hasn’t been confirmed.

Other phone makers will be announcing T-Flash-enabled phones later in the year, he said.

SanDisk plans to OEM cards for carriers and phone manufacturers in addition to offering SanDisk-branded aftermarket T-Flash cards for consumer self-installation later in the year, Sabio said.

In addition, Sabio said that thanks to T-Flash’s copy protection technology, carriers or other vendors can offer pre-loaded content on the cards, such as games, in an aftermarket model.

SanDisk will sell an adapter that lets T-Flash cards interface with SD card slots.