SanDisk has introduced a 4GB iNAND flash device that it says is better than microdrives for embedded storage in mobile devices like GPS devices, MP3 players and, naturally, mobile phones. Compared to a 43mm long 4GB microdrive SanDisk's iNAND is 18 mm long and weighs 2g versus the spinning micro hard disk marvel's 16g. It has better vibration reistance and a better temperature range. It uses the SD card interface.

Sony's Micro Vault Pro has a 5GB Seagate disk spinning inside its USB-connect format. This is a removable memory store. That's one target for the SanDisk iNAND technology. Another is mobile phone manufacturers, plus MP3 players, gaming consoles and GPS devices and, of course, digital cameras.

The iPod Nano famously uses Samsung flash to enable its wafer-thin dimensions compared to its micro HDD-using big brother. Cost may be an issue for Sandisk. Pricing for 2GB iNAND devices is $95 in 10,000 lot quantities.

Memory cards
SanDisk has also introduced Gruvi, a micro SD memory card format with digital rights management (DRM) built in. It's a fingernail-sized card which fits into mobile phones, like a PC Card slotting into a notebook computer. The idea is that content providers will ship Gruvi cards with pre-supplied content protected against copying by the TrustedFlash DRM.

Content providers could be music companies, film suppliers, mapping data companies, any and everything that could be played in a mobile device.

SanDisk partners Sony in the production and development of Sony's Memory Stick. There are two formats: the chewing gum stick-sized Memory Stick Pro, holding up to 4GB, and the pint-sized Memory Stick Duo. Both of these are too long and too thick to be inserted into a mobile phone. They also use too much power; 3.3 volts, which would drain the phone's battery.

Memory Stick has a quarter of world-wide memory card production volume. The SD format has 41 percent. There is no one overall memory card format. With the mobile phone, hand-held games, music player, etc. mobile hand-held market in its infancy as far as removable memory cards are concerned there is everything to play for.

If Memory Stick is to have a presence in this market it needs a new format. It already has a DRM facility with Sony's Magic Gate product. With SanDisk and Sony being so close it seems bizarre that SanDisk would introduce a fingernail-sized microSD format with DRM without Sony being aware of it and having a response prepared. Let's listen up. It surely must be coming.