Choice and Flash Memory

I just bought a new camera, a Sanyo digital video that films in HD (720p) and stores onto flash memory cards. My plan is to give video podcasting a try, but as you can tell from the track record on LiveMink that may be hopeful. Still, it's a cool toy and I am having great fun playing with it.

I actually have a load of flash memory cards due to my long-term addiction to digital photography. The problem is, they are all different kinds. There are CompactFlash cards (in three thicknesses), SD cards, micro SD cards, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Duo and a whole load more. I have a nice 1Gb CompactFlash card but it won't fit the new camera, which uses SD cards. So I have had to get a new SD Card.Flash Memory

Why are there so many formats? Well, they seem to be defined by competing manufacturers and different regional vendor consortia. Memory Stick is from Sony, for example, and hardly used at all by other manufacturers. That means I can be sure that if I have a Sony product, replacing it with a product from some other manufacturer will also involve buying new memory cards and perhaps new adaptors to allow them to be plugged into my computer. As a result, once Sony has managed to get a customer the cost to that customer of exercising choice is higher. More than that, there are quite a few accessories that don't support Memory Stick, so my choice as a customer is further constrained.

What I really want as an end-user is many fewer formats. Choice is still good - there needs to be a range of capacities, of storage technologies, of access speeds and so on. But why should there be so many different connector/card formats?

Part 1: Choice and Light Bulbs
Part 3: Choice and Power Supplies

Comments:

Memory Stick by Sony -- just like Betamax. It takes a little while for supply and demand to mesh up properly and then things will standardize. That's one of the pitfalls of being an early adopter or even in the first wave of the early majority.

Posted by charles on July 04, 2007 at 09:21 PM PDT #

There are adapters for SD to CF. And Micro SD to SD. I have CF in my D100 and would like to stick w/ CF in the future. However I think CF will be replaced by SD. I see the xD and Memory Sticks as lock in devices. I can't see any reason to buy a device that uses them.

Posted by Tom on July 05, 2007 at 01:15 AM PDT #

And what do you get when you make commitment to another family of standards, say buy a Nokia phone because it uses microSD:

"Nokia recommends the use of approved microSD cards. While Nokia adheres to approved industry standards for memory cards, other brands may not function correctly or be fully compatible with this device."

The engineer in me understands that ten different deviations on the card side, and ten different deviations on the reader side makes for 100 cases, but disclaiming all responsibility is just as fishy.

Posted by Janos on July 08, 2007 at 08:46 PM PDT #

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Thoughts and pointers on digital freedoms and technology markets. With a few photos too.

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