Backstage: A TransFlash memory card for iTunes phones?

Since cell phones typically lack significant internal memory, most of the talk about iTunes-ready Motorola phones has focused upon TransFlash memory cards – a little-known flash format that now competes against established players such as CompactFlash, SD, and Sony’s Memory Stick (Pro Duo) as a storage medium. With these cards, you can store tens or hundreds of songs on something no bigger than a woman’s fingernail. Depicted here is a 32MB card, with enough space for around 10 songs. If you shop carefully, you can buy a 512MB card (100-120 songs) for $100.


More information on TransFlash is available at Read More, below. Updated July 14: TransFlash has just been renamed “MicroSD.”


Upon release, Sony’s Memory Stick Pro Duo was pretty expensive, but impressive in its postage stamp-sized footprint. Now TransFlash has come along at a size so small that competing cards seem giant by comparison – who would ever have thought that CompactFlash cards, for instance, could look ridiculously oversized? On the other hand, there’s no way you’re carrying a bunch of TransFlash cards in your pocket without losing some of them. Carriers will be a necessity.



A TransFlash card can be inserted into certain existing Motorola phones and used to store MP3-format music, screen savers, video clips and still pictures. (On an iTunes-enabled phone, the same card could presumably be used to store AAC-format iTunes Music Store downloads as well.) With a SD card adapter, you can transfer songs onto the TransFlash card using existing memory card readers; Motorola also makes TransFlash-ready readers of its own.

Wireless transfers to the TransFlash’s memory? Depends on the phone and the software provided. Lots of Motorola phones now have Bluetooth, so if your computer can sync with Bluetooth devices (and the phone can write to the TransFlash card as a storage device), you’ll be in business. Motorola’s recent V635, for instance, allows the card to be used as a USB storage device, and even supports DRM with expiring files, limited transfers, and a key. It’s all interesting food for thought, isn’t it?

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