July 12, 2002 11:10 AM PDT

Sony shrinks its Memory Stick

stick duo Sony is looking to take a bigger piece of the removable-flash-memory market with a smaller memory card.

The consumer-electronics maker announced Friday that it will begin selling a 16MB Memory Stick Duo card in Japan beginning July 20 for around 2,800 yen, or $24.

Memory Stick Duo is a smaller version of Sony's removable-flash-memory card format Memory Stick, which is roughly the size of a stick of chewing gum. Both card formats were created as storage options for portable consumer-electronics devices.

Memory Stick is used in devices such as handhelds and digital cameras. Memory Stick Duo is about one-third the size of the original, and is meant to fit into devices such as cell phones and small digital audio players.

There were 20 million shipments of Memory Stick cards as of March, according to Sony.

The entrance into the cell phone and digital audio player markets should help boost Memory Stick's share of the removable-flash-memory card market, according to Alan Niebel, analyst with research firm Web-Feet Research. Memory Stick trails the SmartMedia, CompactFlash and Multimedia Card formats.

Web-Feet estimates that this year 5.1 million removable flash-memory cards will be shipped to be used in cell phones and that 1.4 million of those will be Memory Stick cards. The total number of cards is expected to triple next year, to 15.5 million cards, and Memory Stick is expected to account for about 5.2 million units. Removable-flash-memory cards were a $1.3 billion market last year, according to Niebel.

Japanese cell phone operator NTT DoCoMo announced Friday that it will begin selling a new phone, the i-shot mova D25li, in Japan on July 15 that can use Memory Stick Duo cards. The new phone comes with a built-in camera, and images can be stored on the 8MB Memory Stick Duo card that comes with the phone.

Sony representatives said Sony is working to sell Memory Stick Duo on a worldwide basis, but they would not comment on specific regional release dates. Typically, Sony brings products to the U.S. market a couple months after announcements in Japan.

The 16MB Memory Stick Duo card will come with an adapter so it can be used in devices that use the larger Memory Stick format. Sony is looking to offer Duo cards with more memory capabilities.

 

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