Mirroring the trend of devices with which it is meant to be used, Sony's chewing gum-sized Memory Stick memory card is getting smaller.
The company yesterday announced plans to debut a smaller version of the card, the Memory Stick Duo, in early 2001. The card is designed for use in small, portable electronic devices such as cellphones and personal digital assistants, in which space is at a premium. It will live alongside the existing Memory Stick in the market, the company said in a statement.
The memory card, which Sony launched in 1998, is being used in the company's own products as a removable media on which multimedia files such as images and audio can be stored. However, its size means designers face some problems. Sony was unable to use the card, measuring 21.5mm by 50mm by 2.8mm, in a pen-size digital audio player it released last year. It might face similar problems trying to squeeze a card reader into cellular telephones.
The Memory Stick Duo has been designed to fit into spaces where the original card won't. At 20mm by 31mm by 1.6mm, it's one third the volume of the original card. On the down side, its smaller size will affect memory capacity, as there will be less room to build in memory chips.
At the same time as announcing the new card, Sony also said it plans to widen use of the Memory Stick to a new selection of applications. A software-based interface format has been developed for the card which, when added to the system software of portable devices, will enable support for the Memory Stick. Sony said this could widen its use into areas such as network devices and audio/visual devices.
Other enhancements being worked on for the memory card include a new format that will allow the exchange of location information among various products. Sony will work out a standard format for such information so devices can exchange it as they now exchange images or audio. The system will be needed for devices that include satellite navigation functions, such as automobile navigation systems and cameras that record the location of each image.
The small-size version is just one of a number of enhancements announced by Sony that are expected to push shipments of the Memory Stick from their current cumulative total of two million units to eight million by the end of March next year and 20 million units a year after that, Sony said.