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SanDisk Unveils U3 Venture With M-Systems

SanDisk and M-Systems elaborated on a partnership and platform for developing applications for USB flash drives at a press conference at International CES, here.

The new venture, christened U3, will be an LLC with its own CEO and a mandate to court the software development community with a set of open standards. These programs will be stored on the diminutive USB drives and will allow users to securely transport personal data and software programs to public computers.

Once connected, a U3 USB drive can automatically run a virus scan to ensure that the computer to be used is secure. Users can then access programs stored on the drive, such as instant messaging programs, e-mail or Web browsers. They can also download programs directly to the drive through an interface that is loaded on the device.

Once removed from a public computer, no trace of the data or applications remains, creating what SanDisk CEO Eli Harari described as a “portable PC.”

The venture has already secured cooperation from MedicAlert, McAfee, CheckPoint, Corel and ICQ, all of which are developing programs for U3 USB drives, which are expected to ship by the summer.

While the venture is initially geared around developing software for USB drives, Kate Purmal, interim executive director, U3, said the application platform could be used in other devices.