slotMusic: the new 8-track tape?

You have to give SanDisk some credit for trying, I suppose. Just about everyone else — including the four major record labels — seems to have given up on the business of selling actual physical copies of music. Why? Because it’s a crappy business, that’s why. The days of fat profit margins on compact discs are long gone, thanks in part to iTunes. But SanDisk is giving it the old college try anyway, with its “slotMusic” venture, which involves buying a 1-gigabyte microSD card with music, photos and other content on it, which you can jam into your phone or your PC (with an adapter).

My hunch is that my friend Om Malik is probably right — this thing seems to have fail written all over it (TechCrunch is similarly unimpressed). The company makes a big deal out of how much space there is on the microSD card compared to a compact disc, but are people really crying out for more ephemera with their music? I think if anything they seem to want less. Then there’s the form factor. Can you stick it in your phone? Sure you can. But what about when you have more than one?

I can just see myself with half a dozen tiny SD cards, each no bigger than an after-dinner mint, trying to remember where the hell they are and what music is on them. Sure, you can play them in a PC — with an adapter (which costs extra). And as Mike Arrington notes, a blank 1-gigabyte microSD card costs about $8.50. How can Wal-Mart or the other retailers involved sell albums on microSD for $7 to $10? Someone is getting hosed. I can’t figure out whether it’s SanDisk or the record labels — or maybe both. Stay tuned for the next big breakthrough: vinyl records on cereal boxes.

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

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