Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mp3 player storage medium trends: miscroSD

Last year SanDisk announced a partnership with all four major music labels in a deal that's set to bring future albums to microSD cards. The preloaded cards, dubbed "slotMusic" media, will be sold at brick-and-mortar retail locations as an alternative to the CD.(Credit: SanDisk)
At this time, there's no information on which albums will be sold for how much and when, but the first outlets set to receive the new digital music medium are U.S. branches of BestBuy and Wal-Mart, among others. More than likely, the slotMusic cards will go on sale in time for the upcoming holiday season.
No doubt in the interest of compatibility, music will come in a 320Kbps MP3 format. Each card will offer a 1GB capacity, which gives musicians the option of including various album extras such as liner notes, videos, and other creative content. It will also leave extra space for the user to transfer his or her own content to the card.
The idea of slotMusic cards is to bridge the gap between the physical and the digital, as users of certain cell phones and MP3 players will be able to purchase the cards and insert them directly into the device, eliminating the need to rip CDs or download from a service and then connect to the computer to transfer the songs.
However, given the relatively large size of each card (1GB could fit about eight albums assuming 12 tracks per ripped at 320Kbps MP3), this usage model doesn't completely make sense, as you would need to connect to a computer to make full use of the capacity--unless, of course, you're purchasing songs wirelessly, which in itself indicates a certain amount of comfort with a fairly advanced downloading practice.
And say you elect not to make use of the leftover capacity. A phone or MP3 player only has one memory slot--do you really want only one album taking up that spot? Finally, microSD cards are tiny, which raises a concern over how to keep track of them if you start racking up a collection.
All that being said, I'll wait until pricing is released before passing final judgment on slotMusic. I can certainly see an argument if it ends up being a much better value than the current 99-cents-per-song download structure. At the moment, however, I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around who this might appeal to. Am I completely out of touch? Or do you see microSD albums as just another teeny thing to misplace, too? Chime in below.

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