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Ensuring no loss of memory: SanDisk bringing out more products that use flash memory to protect market share

Howard Solomon

How do you spur sales when you're one of the world's biggest flash memory manufacturers?

Build products to take memory.

That's why SanDisk Corp. will release another in its Cruzer line of USB memory keys next month to resellers.

The Cruzer Profile has a small fingerprint reader attached by a short cord to the USB 2.0 memory unit for people who are concerned about securing what's been stored.

An LED verifies enrollment and authentication of the fingerprint.

The units will come in two sizes: one that holds 512 MB of storage with a list price of US$79.99, and a 1GB model that will sell for $129.99

The announcement follows the introduction last month to retailers here of its Sansa e100 line of portable digital music players.

The Sansas come in 512 MB (CDN$179 list) and 1GB (CDN$239) models with software for either Windows XP or Win2000. Both units include FM radios and slots for SD cards to expand memory.

(For a review of the Sansa e130, see page 38.)

The Sansas compete against music players which use mini hard drives such as Apple's iPod, which offer greater storage capacity.

However, Bruce Baird, a national accounts manager who is responsible for SanDisk sales here, argued during a Toronto press tour last month that flash memory-based products aren't as fragile as hard-disk units.

Demand for MP3 players is soaring. According to NPD Canada, a market research firm, Canadian sales of the players, led by the iPod, numbered 1.24 million in the 12 months ending in April.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

That was a 270 per cent increase over the same period the year before.

SanDisk is seeing increasing demand for all its products, which are sold through a variety of channels.

Pressure for Sony's ProDuo Memory Stick, used in Sony's new PlayStation Portable is torrid, Baird said, because the high-resolution screen can show video.

So this month SanDisk will release a 2GB card. Meanwhile, orders for 1 GB ProDuo memory is backlogged and won't be filled until September.

Third manufacturing plant

While it is spending US$2 billion to open a third memory manufacturing plant, "the world will have to wait" for the Sony sticks, said SanDisk spokesman Ken Castle.

The new plant will not only give the company more manufacturing capacity, it will also let it switch next year to making chips with a 70 nanometre manufacturing process, an decrease from the 90nm process.

That will let it increase the number of chips that can come out of a wafer of silicon.

Interestingly, there is one thing that distinguishes Canadian flash memory sales from those south of the border: We're big buyers of USB key drives.

"There are probably more people walking around with USB flash drives here than in the U.S.," said Baird.

It isn't clear if that means we have a memory problem.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Transcontinental Media IT Business Group
COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group





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