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SanDisk Targets Phones With New SD Format

Hannover, Germany – SanDisk introduced a raft of new flash memory products at the CeBit show, here, aimed at expanding the market for removable flash memory cards in cell phones, as well as upping the capacities of cards aimed at the digital camera user.

The surge in camera phone sales, both types with cameras embedded in them or phones that accept camera attachments, has caught the attention of flash memory manufacturers, who have begun slimming down their formats to capture share in the cellular phone market. A study released this week from the San Mateo, Calif.-based research firm, Future Image, predicted that camera phones would outsell both film and digital cameras combined in 2003, dramatically illustrating the widening potential market for flash memory.

To address the growing market, SanDisk introduced a new SD format, the miniSD, designed, like Sony’s Memory Stick DUO, to shrink the flash format for the new generation of multi-media cell phones. The new format was developed by the three original developers of the SD card, Toshiba, Matsushita and SanDisk, and adopted by the 500-member SD Association.

Compared to standard SD cards, the miniSD card saves more than 40 percent of the printed circuit board area and more than 60 percent of the volume required to support the card in a portable device.

The new card is compatible, in terms of both software and electrical components, with the existing SD standard. It uses the same SD interface, including security features for content protection (CPRM-Content Protection Rights Management) as the standard SD card. This allowed SanDisk to offer an adapter that converts the miniSD card into the SD card form factor for use in existing SD card devices.

SanDisk will initially ship cards in 16MB, 32MB, 64MB, 128MB and 256MB capacities, with U.S. availability slated for the second half of the year. The cards will be packaged with a full-sized SD adapter. Suggested retail pricing for the miniSD plus SD adapter will be $29 for the 32MB card. Prices on higher capacities have not been set.

The company also introduced a 128MB MultiMediaCard (MMC) targeted at audio players and new multi-function cell phones. The new card, which also can be used in most portable devices that have a slot for SD memory cards, is currently the highest capacity MMC on the market. The 128MB MMC has a suggested retail price of $74.99 and will start shipping later this month.

SanDisk increased capacities for its standard SD cards, announcing that it will ship a 512MB SD card in the second quarter of the year, and a 1GB SD card in the third quarter. The 512MB and 1GB SD cards have suggested retail prices of $169.99 and $329.99, respectively.

Moving to the larger form factor CompactFlash card, SanDisk announced that it will ship a 2GB and 4GB card in the Type I format. The 4GB CF card has a suggested retail price of $999.99 and is expected to start shipping this summer. The 2GB CF card has a suggested retail price of $499.99 and is expected to start shipping in May.