SanDisk Announces a New Physical Music Format

It's no secret that music sales comprised of physical media (i.e. CDs) are down in the face of huge competition from iTunes and other digital distribution channels.  At the same time, no one ever said the record labels would give up on physical sales easily.  Today SanDisk, along with the four major record labels (Warner Bros., EMI, Sony BMG and Universal Music Group) have announced a new format: slotMusic. slotMusic is essentially a microSD card with an album on it, and the partners plan to roll it out in time for the holiday season.

According to the format's
official site, Wal-Mart and Best Buy are already lined up to stock the cards.

With slotMusic, songs will be loaded onto what are known as microSD cards, the fingernail-size siblings of the larger and more popular SD card format. Slots for microSD cards can be found in scores of mobile phones, including those from Research In Motion, Nokia, Palm, Samsung, and Motorola. "There's a billion phones out there and a lot of them can play music and a lot of them have a microSD slot," says Daniel Schreiber, a SanDisk vice-president. "We think there's still a need for a tangible, physical product. People will appreciate walking out of the store playing music on their phones."

The cards will ship with a sleeve so they can be readily used with computers.  This makes a ton of sense as the i-devices (such as iPod) don't have microSD (or any SD) slots.  We would assume the slotMusic cards will be usable with other slots such as miniSD and SD, with an adapter, though it is not made clear on the official site.

Still, the big question, even for a format as small as this (fingernail-sized, for those who've never seen it) is: can you draw consumers to a new physical format in the age of the download?  And what will the pricing be?  According to the

NY Times, one executive said it will be in the $7 - 10 range, which would be a bargain if you look at the pricing for 1 GB microSD cards at, and add in the music.  You can always erase the cards and use them separately, after all.

And finally, how does this affect the apparent buyout interest in the company from others such as Toshiba and Samsung?  We may yet see, as the holiday season starts up.

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