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.