Japanese consumer electronics giants Matsushita and Toshiba have teamed up with Sandisk in the US to develop memory cards that can store digital music and film files downloaded from the Internet.
The cards will enable users to store music files in digital format. They will fit into portable music players slated to go on sale next year. The companies are hoping the cards, which will initially hold 64Mbytes of data, will become a de facto standard for digital consumer products as well as PCs.
The cards will be able to handle a data transmission rate of around two megabits per second (Mbps), rapidly rising to 10Mbps.
The teaming comes on the back of Toshiba’s confirmation that it will release a portable digital music player before the end of the year in Japan and the US. The player is unlikely to use MP3 format.
The MP3 compression format has come under much criticism from the music industry because they maintain it is open to piracy. The format, however, has really grabbed the imagination of consumers who are rapidly adopting it.
In June the digital music initiative, made up of music industry and technology companies, released guidelines to create a secure digital format which included adopting a digital “watermark” for music online in a bid to curb piracy.
It is estimated that worldwide sales for players capable of downloading music from the Internet will rocket from around one million this year to 10 million by 2003. Sales of downloadable music on the Internet could hit £143 million, according to forecasts by market research company Jupiter Communications.
Diamond Multimedia shipped the first portable MP3 player last autumn, dubbed the Rio. Following its success, big name consumer electronics companies have been keen to jump on the bandwagon.
Sony has already confirmed its intention to release a player this year which will use its “flash memory stick” technology which will enable digital tracks to be transferred between devices.
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