14 Comments

Summary:

This morning, SanDisk announced its next foray into the world of digital music. Too bad this digital music idea, like their previous ones, will be going the way of the dodo bird. SanDisk’s slotMusic product is a 1GB microSD card loaded with an album. You purchase […]

This morning, SanDisk announced its next foray into the world of digital music. Too bad this digital music idea, like their previous ones, will be going the way of the dodo bird.

SanDisk’s slotMusic product is a 1GB microSD card loaded with an album. You purchase the card from your local Wal-Mart or Best Buy and then insert the card into any device that will accept the card (such as a mobile phone). All music will be encoded in high-quality MP3 format, free of any sort of DRM. Currently Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, Sony BMG and EMI are on board.

So why, exactly, will SanDisk’s newest baby go the way of the prehistoric pigeon?

First, the format in which the music is being distributed significantly reduces the number of potential buyers. Sure, the fact that the MP3′s are DRM free is a great plus, but the fact that the songs are distributed on a microSD card increases the hassle-factor exponentially. The barrier to entry for these sorts of things has got to be as close to zero as possible. Not to mention that sales of physical media are on the way out with CD’s seeing an almost 50% decline since 2000.

Second, the music selection on launch is dismal at best. Only 29 albums (around 300 songs) will be available compared to that of iTunes’ 8 million songs. The slotMusic setup just doesn’t scale. If/When they get in to the 100+ album mark, it will be extremely costly to stock that much shelf space.

Pricing wise, at $7 to $10 a pop, these will be quite affordable. But from an economics stand point, I can’t imagine SanDisk possibly making enough to cover costs after they’ve paid the music companies, manufacturing costs, and marketing. Plus, who really needs dozens of microSD cards hanging around?

I give this 6 months at best before they are discontinued.

  1. Reason #483 why this is a bad idea: the most popular digital audio player in the world does not accept MicroSD cards.

    Share
  2. I’m assuming we’d be able to transfer the MP3s off the memory card? If so, I’d definitely buy ‘em over iTunes if it meant I got a packaged album with old-fashioned album cover and liner notes. I hate not having liner notes that I can hold in my hands.

    Share
  3. @SC: Yes, you can transfer them, but what is the benefit of this format over a physical CD? You can get even higher quality music from that if you encode it yourself plus you get physical album art. You could probably even get the CD for about the same price as the microSD card at a place like Best Buy where CDs are pretty inexpensive.

    Share
  4. @Josh Pigford: In which case I’d choose the microSD card version over CD. I abhor optical media/spinning plastic discs and would be glad to be done with them in every form once and for all (DVD, and those new-fangled Blu-Ray or whatever they’re called) in favour of solid state memory. microSD has one potential buyer in me — probably the only one, but one nonetheless. :)

    Share
  5. Also keep in mind that a cell phone for example one has one memory slot and many people will already be storing photos, etc on the card in that slot.

    they are not going to want to remove it just to play songs. (Yes, the more savvy would know how to copy from one card to another.)

    Share
  6. And of course these dogs will be packaged in a square foot of plastic that has been heat-sealed, making it ten times more difficult to open (think broken fingernails, scratched fingers and gouged palms), making buyers not so anxious to go through that experience again.

    I certainly hope you’re right on this one, Josh.

    @SC: Have no fear, the next Zoon will let you insert your card and copy the songs, but they all disappear after three days.

    Share
  7. Even if I were inclined to accept the medium of a microSD card, the fact that the tracks are MP3 and not Red Book lossless (or better yet, 24/96 PCM) is insulting.

    Share
  8. New CDs are $7 to $10 a pop, and they include lossless audio.

    Share
  9. It would make *far* more sense to use a USB attachable format rather than Micro SD. Perhaps something that can even have some form of “album art” printed onto it.

    Share
  10. From what I read you will get a USB adapter for every single memory card. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10047311-93.html

    Meaning everyone with a computer equipped with a working USB slot will be able to listen to this. So the market isn’t that small. I wonder why you missed this quite important information.

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post