by Al Sacco

Video series reminds you why memory cards are not dead yet

Dec 14, 2015
Cloud StorageConsumer ElectronicsiPhone

The SD Association is fighting back against some electronics makers' slow move away from microSD memory cards with a set of five silly videos designed to convince you that external memory can be crucial.

Apparently 2015 was the 10-year anniversary of the original microSD memory card. Who knew? Not I … at least not until the SD Association sent me an email pitch about a new YouTube and social media campaign (#choosemicroSD) that’s designed to remind consumers, who increasingly look to the cloud for their storage needs, that there’s still a place in the tech world for memory cards.

The SD Association is an industry group formed in 2000 to “create standards and then promote the adoption, advancement and use of SD standards used by competing product manufacturers that make interoperable memory cards and devices.” It’s made up of hundreds of companies, including AMD, Hitachi, HP, Huawei, IBM, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility, Nintendo, Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony Mobile, Toshiba and ZTE.

The timing of its silly new campaign, composed of five short video clips in which enraged mobile device users smash their gadgets because the internal storage is full and they don’t support memory cards, is no coincidence.

Shift away from memory cards in smartphones, tablets?

A number of high-profile mobile devices makers that traditionally built memory card support into their electronics this year released high-profile products without such support. Samsung, a member of the SD Association, for example, ditched memory cards in its full lineup of Galaxy S6 phones, including the regular GS6, GS6 edge, GS6 Active and GS6 edge+. (The next version of its Galaxy flagship smartphone, the GS7, could once again have a memory card slot, according to The Wall Street Journal, so Samsung may have reconsidered its decision.)

This slow move away from external memory support is not good news for the SD Association or the average consumer. However, other leading handset makers released high-profile phones this year with microSD card support, including Motorola (DROID Turbo 2 and DROID Maxx 2) and BlackBerry (PRIV), so the microSD card slot in phones and tablets is far from extinct.

The SD Association’s videos are corny and a bit overdone, but joking aside, I’m a big fan of microSD cards. All of my favorite phones had them, with the exception of any Apple iPhone. Apple’s phones never supported microSD cards, which means a huge portion of the overall smartphone market does not have access to expandable memory.

Apple even uses internal storage as a way to nab an additional $100 from its customers. The latest iPhones, for example, are available in three storage configurations: 16GB, 64GB and 128GB. For most people 16GB isn’t enough space to use their phones without storage constraints, but 32GB often is. Apple likely knows this and does not offer a 32GB iPhone instead of the 16GB version, which leads many customers to fork over another C note for the 64GB version.

Consumers should care about microSD memory cards 

sandisk 200gb microsd card Martyn Williams/IDG News Service

Memory card support in smartphones, tablets and other electronics is good for consumers. People who don’t want to use them don’t have to, and if a phone has a microSD card slot, its owner can still upload data to the cloud as they see fit. Security-conscious individuals who don’t want to store potentially sensitive data on third-party servers can use memory cards instead — and many high-end phones offer memory card encryption options as additional safeguards.

Oh, and on a separate but related note, Amazon currently has 200GB SanDisk microSD cards available for just $100, or 67 percent off the full retail price, which is a gen-u-ine steal.

You’ll find all five of the SD Association #choosemicroSD videos on the organization’s YouTube page.