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Monday, December 08, 2003
Flash Drive Alliance to promote portable storage

Samsung Semiconductor and several other technology companies on Monday will unveil a new industry group to promote USB Flash Drives -- small, portable storage devices that allow people to transfer data between computers and electronic gadgets like digital music players.

The group, dubbed the USB Flash Drive Alliance, aims to expand the use of flash memory as an alternative to CDs, DVDs and floppy disk drives as downloading of digital songs, movies and other content from the Internet grows in frequency.

The drives are smaller than a pack of chewing gum, and plug into USB ports, which are more common than CD and DVD burners.

A 2 gigabyte version can store about 250 songs in MP3 format, far greater storage than the 1.44 megabytes a standard floppy disc can hold, according to the group.

Average prices range from $50 to $100 for drives with 256 megabyte to 512 megabyte capacity, but can run up to $1,000 for drives with more storage, said UFDA President Steffen Helmold.

Sales of the drives, first introduced in 2001, are accelerating this year, financial analysts said.

Drastic declines in flash memory chip costs last year and early this year have helped to stimulate sales, said Joseph Unsworth, an analyst at market research firm Gartner.

More than 30 million units are expected to be shipped worldwide in 2003, twice as many as analysts expected and nearly three times the 11 million shipped last year, said Alan Niebel, principal analyst at Web-Feet Research.

Computer makers including International Business Machines Corp. , Dell Inc. and Gateway Inc.are bundling them with PCs and notebooks, he said.

The sponsor members of the alliance include Samsung Semiconductor, Genesys Logic Inc., Kingston Technologies, Lexar Media Inc.and PNY Technologies. Associate members include Microsoft Corp., Crucial Technology, SimpleTech Inc. and Viking Interworks.

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