Sony expands Memory Stick range

Sony is predicting massive growth in its Memory Stick business with more than 200 million memory stick devices shipped by 2005.

By September 2002, about 30 million devices that feature slots for Sony’s storage technology had been shipped. It’s taken three years to get to that point, but worldwide sales have skyrocketed in the last few months.

“It took two-and-a-half years to achieve 20 million slots, but the additional 10 million took only six months,” Sony’s general manager for the Memory Stick Business Centre in Tokyo, Royji Sato, said. Memory Stick is at the centre of Sony’s plans to have all its products networkable by 2005. Last week the vendor announced two new cards. The first features the Memory Select Function, a similar idea to partitioning a PC hard drive.

“Initially the total memory will be 256MB – that's two times 128MB but in the future we will have 512MB and above,” Sato said. “You change from one side to the other with a flick of a switch to enable compartmentalisation of content in media.”

Sony’s Memory Stick Duo device, its expansion module and Memory Stick with fingerprint ID, are all on the immediate horizon, as well.

The company announced plans for the introduction of Memory Stick Pro – a new Memory Stick format that Sony developed in conjunction with SanDisk.

Memory Stick Pro will enable the recording of high resolution moving images in real time, with transfer rates of up to 160Mbps on optimised hardware. It is also Sony’s high capacity option – 256MB, 512MB and 1GB will be introduced here in April.

However, it will take time for hardware manufacturers to introduce compatible hardware. Sony begins shipping Memory Stick Pro enabled devices in February but some, such as the Cybershot DSCF717 and DSCF77, already accept the new format.

Other products such as Sony’s Clie PEG-NX70V handheld and six models of Sony Vaio notebooks can be upgraded. Sony will make the drives available on its Web site when the new media launches. No longer a proprietary format, Memory Stick products are being incorporated into a everything from PDAs and camcorders to smart phones.

“In the past, Sony has been criticised for going it alone and not ensuring compatibility across all products in the market” Sony Australia managing director, Toshikazu Mashima, said. “Now we are working with our competitors.”

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