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SanDisk's groovy new memory cards: the real deal or another bust?

SanDisk's groovy new memory cards: the real deal or another bust?

Memory-making goliath SanDisk introduced TrustedFlash memory technology at CTIA. It could either be the next CD or fall flat like "revolutionary" media of the past (see DataPlay). Supposedly, through the aid of onboard crytographic processing, cards utilizing this technology are much more secure than existing cards and are ideal for copyright holders, such as music labels and movie studios. The technology is pitched as beneficial to everyone: excellent DRM and a new physical platform for music and videos for the labels, and for the consumer, media that is interchangeable between devices, including cell phones, PDAs, MP3 players, and the computer itself.

But it takes a lot of coordination to create a new ecosystem--you need compatible hardware, people willing to spend some cash on little morsels of plastic, and solid technology to thwart piracy. The newly branded Gruvi cards, the first to utilize TrustedFlash, will be available in November. The first release will be the Rolling Stones' new album, A Bigger Bang (EMI/Virgin) available on a Gruvi Micro SD card for $39.95 (TrustedFlash will also appear on Mini SD and SD cards--confused?). Granted, it's new technology, and it offers bonus material and video, but $40 is stiff. We'll have to see how this pans out--I'm curious. In terms of hardware, Samsung has already agreed to produce TrustedFlash-compatible phones and other mobile devices.

What was more interesting to me was SanDisk's relationship with Yahoo Music Unlimited. A "micro" version of the new and popular jukebox/music store/subscription service will reside on Gruvi cards themselves so that you can listen (and manage) to licensed music on multiple devices, including your PC. You'll even be able to subscribe to YMU using your mobile. Although it may take a while, SanDisk will probably succeed, given good technology and the company's position in the flash industry, not to mention the desperation of the music (and movie) industry to uncover the next compact disc.