SanDisk’s slotMusic cards—microSD cards with pre-loaded, DRM-free MP3s, were. In other words, a last ditch effort to rescue floundering physical music sales. slotMusic cards come with a small USB sleeve, enabling users to put any music they buy onto their computer as well as playing it on their phone or MP3 player and SanDisk seemed to think everyone would be into the idea of dropping into Wal-Mart, picking up one of these Micro SD cards and being able to listen to the latest Weezer album on their mobile phone while they walked back to their car.
With backing from the four major labels, such a ‘meh’ announcement came as a surprise. Offering albums on MicroSD cards is new but it’s not ground breaking. SanDisk this morning followed the slotMusic announcement with the launch of a new MP3 player for just twenty bucks.
The Sansa slotMusic Player retails for $19.99 (or $34.99 for an artist branded player, which bears your favorite artist’s image and comes bundled with a slotMusic card). Again, the company is pushing the “effortless” aspect of not needing to load music onto your PC and cutting out any time spent on music management, although this is replaced with the chopping and changing of SD cards depending on the album you want to listen to. That said you can also stick a MicroSD with thousands of different songs (MP3 or WMA) into the player and get rid of the need to cart around 50 different slotMusic cards. However, this would bring in some of that music management SanDisk is so eager to cut out.
The addition of the MP3 player to SanDisk’s music-on-the-go format will no doubt improve the chances of the slotMusic card’s success. Before users would need to own a phone or device that would accept MicroSD cards, and while we said before they’d probably be a big hit with tourists and those who wouldn’t be comfortable taking their iPod with them on a trip, not everyone’s cell phone has a MicroSD slot. The fact that SanDisk also offers a player for the cards at such an affordable price means they’re even more likely to be successful, a sort of disposable MP3 player.
SanDisk expects to roll out the slotMusic player in Europe sometime in 2009.