Friday, June 13, 2008

Will memory cards replace musical CDs?

 This is the question the Mercury News was asking this week.

CEO of Memory card maker Sandisk believe that "not all media will be downloaded", and therefore memory cards will probably replace music.

The main fact is that the music industry has problem big time to deal with the Internet. You already know the trouble they have with peer to peer softwares like Napster, Kazaa, emule, and now Bittorrent. Their economical model has to be rethought, and as their margin will probably experience a big cut, they are reluctant to change.

SanDisk Chief Executive Eli Harari thinks that the musical industry is more comfortable with the classical retail based distribution, which is selling CDs in a store. Therefore, they'd probably happy to find a new support that could replace CDs and that could allow the musical industry to keep it the old way.

The fact is also that nowadays, all the different mobile devices, cell phones, MP
3 players and others, are equipped with memory card readers. The memory card format is therefore in great position to shift to this new format.

Now what do I think about that?

 I understand memory card producers are seeking for new market opportunities, and that their solution will be great for the musical companies. However, does the customer want it? I don't think that the customers are eager to change once more of format. They are already confused by the Blue ray - HD DVD fight. There is no real technical improvement by the fact of storage music on memory card. First it won't enhance the sound quality. Secondly, I don't think we'll see a 4 gigabyte CDs of 1000 songs by Maroon 5. Even the most prolific singer can't create that much. And if so, the album would be out of price ($1000 for 1000 songs?)

"Not all media will be downloaded?"
 This is a great topic. I can't tell. Maybe that is true, but I deeply believe 90% of it will be downloaded, through a computer, a cell phone, a mp3 players or others. Now I still believe that retailers like Fnac, Virgin Megastore will still have some room in their stores dedicated to music, maybe as a promotional space, where you'll be able to discover new artists for example.

But will a memory card will replace the CD for musical content? I don't think so. We could see that some other supports have failed, like the UMD or the Mini Disc, which both of them had advantages.

 Concerning physical music sales, I think that what people should focus on is offering some more than music. At the time of vinyl discs, the cover and the discs themselves were some piece of art for some of them. I don't believe that the memory card support will able to bring that back versus the disc. As I have said I believe music retailers still have a future. They just need to find how to be innovative.

What do you think about it? Do you see memory cards to sell music? What do you think about the statement "not all media will be downloaded?

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