SD and TransFlash memory cards set for huge growth at the expense of CF
At a press briefing in London today, Ed Moro – SanDisk's new managing director of EMEA sales – outlined some new strategies and plans for SanDisk during 2005. SanDisk is one of the leading manufacturers and architects of memory card standards, having been involved, wholly or in partnership, in the creation of many familiar card types, including Compact Flash, SD and the up and coming and ultra-small TransFlash card type, which has been developed by SanDisk for the mobile phone market..
What interested us is evidence presented by Moro that the days of the digital camera being the driving force behind the rapid growth of the memory card market are over. SanDisk expects compound annual growth in memory cards for digital camera customers to be just 19% between 2003 and 2007, compared with 70% for cards destined for the mobile phone market, 57% for USB flash drives and 63% for digital music player devices.
Last year, for the first time, the mobile phone market swallowed up more of SanDisk's unit production of memory cards than the digital camera market. Next year, SanDisk predicts that USB flash drives will overtake the digital camera memory card market.
Despite high expectations for sales to DSLR users, a market that could grow five-fold to around 5 million annual camera sales by 2007, it looks like compact flash cards will be left behind by other popular card types in overall unit sales. Compact flash represented over 40% of SanDisk sales last year and this is likely to fall to just 20% during 2005 and is in danger of being overtaken for the first time by Sony Memory Stick sales, mainly thanks to expected high volume sales of the new Sony PlayStation Portable. SanDisk is the No.1 Sony Memory Stick-compatible brand in the US and expects to overtake Sony in world terms by the end of this year.
This doesn't mean the future for compact flash is bleak, though it is rapidly being phased out of compact digital camera lines in favour of SD/MMC and xD. CF will eventually be the mainstay of DSLRs. It looks like unit sales of CF cards will still grow, but not nearly as fast as other card types. The good news is that the generous dimensions of the Compact Flash form factor will ensure CF cards will continue to offer the highest storage capacities of all compact memory cards and this stretches to 8GB today. The cost per megabyte of all cards, including CF, will also continue to fall steadily.
Despite the lessening in overall importance of the digital camera market to SanDisk, Moro points out that his company continues to innovate in this market. A year ago SanDisk introduced its "Shoot & Store" concept in the US. Shoot & Store SD and CF cards are available in relatively small capacities, currently up to 64MB, but at very low unit prices. The idea is that you use the cards as a permanent and secure storage medium for your photos, buying replacement cards once you have filled your current card. Moro reports that both US and European sales have been on target and that sales have been especially strong in outlets that already sell conventional memory cards for cameras.
At the big US annual photo industry trade show, PMA, in less than three weeks, SanDisk will be outlining further plans to introduce an SD card that can be plugged straight into a standard USB port and both SD and Memory Stick cards produced in bright fluorescent colours, colour coded to represent storage capacities.
Dpnow will be reporting live from the PMA show floor as usual.