updated 07:45 am EDT, Mon September 22, 2008
The major music labels and SanDisk today tried to revive physical music with slotMusic. The concept is aimed at music phone users who want quick access to music as though it were a CD, but also to users who prefer to have a physical backup of digital music: each 1GB microSD card comes with an album's worth of music in 320Kbps MP3 files, enabling the music to be played right away or transferred to any computer through a bundled USB adapter. The extra space allows special features such as videos and can be used as storage space of its own.
Albums should be available before the end of the year from EMI, Sony, Universal, and Warner and will primarily appear in large-size US retail chains Best Buy and Wal-Mart as well as at online stores. Sales should start in Europe at a later date.
The move comes in spite of a gradual shift towards online music stores. Apple's iTunes earlier this year became the single largest music source in the US regardless of format and eclipsed both of SanDisk's retail partners for slotMusic. The download store has so far held its lead since obtained early in the year and has so far held off online stores from both Best Buy and Wal-Mart as well as Amazon.
However, the format also competes favorably against direct-download services from cellular carriers, which regularly charge significantly more to download songs and often include copy protection that prevents copying the music to a PC.