SanDisk Corp. this week said that it had begun shipping recently unveiled slotMusic cards, microSD cards pre-loaded with music. In addition, the firm unveiled its new Sansa player specifically designed for slotMusic/microSD cards. The company will sell both generic SanDisk Sansa slotMusic players as well as special edition artist-branded devices.
slotMusic cards enable consumers to instantly and easily enjoy music from their favorite artists without being dependent on a PC or Internet connection. Users simply insert the slotMusic card into their microSD-enabled mobile phone or MP3 player to hear the music with 320Kb/s bitrate, without passwords, downloading or digital-rights-management interfering with their personal use. SanDisk has signed contracts with top artists from EMI Music, Sony BMG, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group, to sell their records on its slotMusic memory cards.
The list of artists making their debut on slotMusic cards this week includes, Abba, Chris Brown, Coldplay, Connie Talbot, Daughtry, Don’t Quit Fitness Bundle, Elvis Presley, Five Finger Death Punch, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Buffet, Katy Perry, Keane, Kelly Clarkson, Kiss, Leona Lewis, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Metro Station, MIA, Nelly, New Kids On the Block, Ne-Yo, Nickelback, Pussycat Dolls, Rihanna, Rise Against, Robin Thicke, Saving Abel, Shwayze, Solange, Sugarland, Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Usher, Weezer and Young Jeezy. SanDisk indicated that consumers can expect additional releases from other artists before the end of the year.
Each slotMusic card costs $14.99 and is packaged with a tiny USB adapter so to make it easier to enjoy on a personal computer. There are doubts that slotMusic will gain huge popularity since audio CD albums usually cost $9.99 in online web-stores, such as Amazon, whereas separate MP3 tracks for download are priced at $0.89 - $0.99 in stores like Amazon or iTunes. Perhaps, slotMusic cards would get popular if SanDisk sold them in airports or train stations, locations where people have limited Internet access, but are eager to buy content to enjoy during their trip. However, SanDisk plans to sell its music cards through Best Buy and Wal-Mart retail chains, which also carry audio CDs.
Although slotMusic has a number of indisputable advantages over CDs, not everything is that bright with slotMusic microSD cards. Firstly, flash cards are uneasy to keep and carry since they are very small and can get lost easily; secondly, microSD cards are not compatible with consumer electronics, thus, cannot by enjoyed on a Hi-Fi audio system; thirdly, traditional music stores (apart from Best Buy and Wal-Mart) may not be interested in selling something that may be considered as “non-standard” music carrier, as a consequence, availability of slotMusic will not be widespread. Despite of possible disadvantages, the idea of loading content only flash drives seems to be an interesting one.
In addition to music flash cards, SanDisk also unveiled its slotMusic compatible Sansa portable digital music player that will retail for just $19.99 with headphones and batteries included. SanDisk will also offer artist-branded slotMusic player, which package includes both the slotMusic card and a trendy player bearing their favorite artist’s name and image. The branded player comes pre-loaded with an album on a 1GB slotMusic card and will retail for a manufacturer suggested retail price of $34.99.
SanDisk has also developed a special line of Sansa slotMusic Player accessories, including a Sansa Card Wallet, an armband and additional slotMusic player “shells” for customizing a player to one’s own tastes.