Samsung to begin manufacturing Memory Stick media

Samsung Electronics has expanded its Memory Stick licensing agreement with Sony and plans to begin manufacturing its own-brand Memory Stick memory cards, the two companies announced Wednesday.

The deal covers manufacture of the basic blue-colored Memory Stick and Memory Stick Duo cards and does not include the newer Memory Stick Pro or expansion module cards, said Aki Shimazu, a spokeswoman for Sony in Tokyo. Samsung becomes Sony's fourth licensee after SanDisk Corp., Lexar Media Inc. and Fujitsu Ltd. Sony also produces the cards itself.

The South Korean electronics company expects to begin production in August or September and begin sales shortly afterwards, said Jun Yim, a spokesman for Samsung in Seoul.

While the addition of Samsung as a licensee will bring more competition to the market, it is not expected to bring significantly lower prices for consumers.

"I think the price will be comparable (with existing manufacturers)," said Yim. "I don't think we can make them for much cheaper."

The deal builds on a licensing agreement signed between the companies in 2001 that gave Samsung the ability to include Memory Stick slots and support in its digital consumer electronics products. To date the Seoul, South Korea, electronics manufacturer has included a Memory Stick slot in several products including a notebook personal computer and DVD player.

Samsung said it is currently developing at least one cellular telephone that will feature a Memory Stick slot. Yim declined to divulge any details of the product because it is still under development although said it could be launched before the end of this year.

Memory Stick, launched by Sony in 1998, was the top selling memory card format in 2002, according to a July report by market research company IDC. Around 18 million cards were shipped during the year, thanks in large part to the popularity of Sony-brand consumer electronics products. Over the next five years IDC expects shipment growth of Memory Stick Duo to be particularly strong and for it to be the number two memory card format, behind leader mini SD, by 2007.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
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