SanDisk & big 4 labels launch music on microSD
Now that many consumers have switched over from bulky portable CD players to compact MP3 players, the music industry is trying hard to find new ways to overcome falling CD sales and so far online music download shops have not made up for the declining sales. So this time the 4 major record labels have teamed up with SanDisk to have a go at yet another music format medium – slotMusic.
A slotMusic card is a 1GB microSD card that contains the songs or album in DRM-free MP3 format, which can be played on mobile phones and other players that feature MP3 playback from microSD cards. The microSD card will ship with a USB microSD reader, which will let users add their own content to the card.
The SlotMusic format will initially launch in the US both online and in retail stores including Best Buy and Wal-Mart. The official website mentions that this year’s biggest releases will be available on the new format, however, so far no pricing information or launch dates have been announced other than that the format will be available in time for the coming holiday season. Like enhanced audio CDs, the format may include additional extras such as album art, videos, etc. depending on the artist. The music will be encoded at up to 320kbps.
Unfortunately, one significant drawback of microSD is the lack of phones and MP3 players that have microSD slots. For example, only certain mobile phones have a microSD slot and most MP3 players including the iPod series do not have any expansion slot. Some microSD capable mobile phones have a drawback in that the consumer must remove the original card to insert the SlotMusic card and some phones even require the user to remove the battery to access the slot.
It’ll be interesting to see whether this format actually catches on. At least unlike other unsuccessful media formats the music industry tried to supersede the CD, this format is not crippled with DRM and does not require specialised hardware to playback. As flash memory is still rather expensive, the record labels will need to find a way of making the album prices attractive enough for consumers to choose music SlotMusic cards over CDs.
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