Sony speaks softly, carries bigger Memory Stick

This week Sony announced three variants of their Memory Stick solid-state memory format. Memory Stick Pro is a higher-capacity, faster (160 Mbps read, 15 Mbps write), high-priced and incompatible update to Memory Stick. Memory Stick Select is a backwards-compatible, bank-switched (!) enhancement to Memory Stick for old (i.e. current) devices — and yes, you actually slide a teensy switch on the back of the Memory Stick Select to choose the active bank. Memory Stick Duo is a tiny(er) format for portable devices.

Memory Stick is currently the second most popular solid state media format, behind Compact Flash. But since Memory Stick Pro isn’t backwards-compatible — let’s face it, Memory Stick Select is just to keep customers who bought into the Memory Stick format from going insane — Sony is effectively starting over, giving the Matsushiti-based Secure Digital format a rather large window of opportunity. Eli Harari, president and CEO of SanDisk (which helped develop both formats), says:

In my opinion the market will bifurcate between SD and Memory Stick Pro because Sony and Matsushita are both so powerful and so dedicated to their own formats.

Memory Stick Pro media will come in 256 MB ($190 USD), 512 MB ($440 USD) and 1 GB ($880 USD) capacities — in contrast, 512MB Compact Flash media costs half (!) as much — and will be available from Sony, San Disk and Lexar in April. Sony said that 2 GB Memory Stick Pro media (the format has a theoretical maximum capacity of 32 GB) should be available next year. | EETimes story | InfoSync story