LONDON Flash memory card maker SanDisk Corp. has linked with music publisher EMI to launch a music format dubbed ‘gruvi’ that the companies say could eventually replace CDs.
The finger-nail sized music card, the first to use SanDisk’s TrustedFlash secure format, comes pre-recorded with music and is suitable for playback on mobile phones, PDAs and laptop computers.
The companies are planning to roll out the cards into the mobile gaming and video sectors in 2006. It is understood the first card will feature the latest Rolling Stones album, ‘A Bigger Bang’. If successful, they plan to introduce video cards next year.
SanDisk stresses the TrustedFlash based cards will allow consumers to use the cards in a variety of supported devices, in contrast to today’s closed, proprietary systems that bind content to a particular host device, such as a specific mobile phone or MP3 player.
The encryption technology embedded in the card allows it to be the manager of digital rights, giving consumers the freedom to transfer the card – and its content – to other supported devices without compromising its content protection system.
SanDisk says the TrustedFlash technology addresses the security concerns of content providers as well as mobile network operators and mobile phone manufacturers. As well as EMI, companies that have adopted the platform include Samsung Mobile Communications, Yahoo! Music and NDS.
The latter, one of the biggest players in pay-TV content protection technology, is working with SanDisk to create a security system that would link the gruvi card to an Internet server, which would verify the content is authorized.
SanDisk also said it is “working with a number of leading handset manufacturers to enable their handsets to support TrustedFlash cards through a software upgrade.” In a second phase planned for 2006, it is expected that TrustedFlash will also support mobile commerce applications and enable handsets to perform secure online financial transactions such as credit card payments, mass-transit access and one-time password authentication.
Initially, the cards will be available to OEMs in the miniSD, microSD and SD card formats, with maximum capacities of up to 2 Gbytes.
However, for consumers, the gruvi cards won’t come cheap, with each expected to retail for about $40.