Sony Reassesses Memory Stick Shipments
Sony is getting a little more bullish on the future prospects for its Memory Stick removable memory card while adjusting down its shipment figures for the format's first two years on sale.
Until this week, the company had said "actual shipments" of Memory Stick media totaled 10 million units by the end of fiscal year 2000, which ended in March 2001. But the Tokyo company has revised its shipment figures for fiscal year 1999 downward by one-third, and says cumulative shipments for the period to the end of March 2001 were actually closer to 9 million units.
"We don't have any solid answers," says Aki Shimazu, a Sony spokesperson, about the discrepancy. "But the latest (data) is the most accurate information we can provide."
Sony has also announced "actual shipments" to the end of March 2003. The company says cumulative shipments of cards had totaled 39 million units by then. The figure is about 10 percent higher than a forecast made in mid-2002, although well below earlier predictions. Those earlier predictions, made in March 2001, called for cumulative shipments to total 65 million units by the end of fiscal year 2002. Sony revised those figures downward last year largely because the use of memory cards in cellular telephone handsets never took off as expected.
When first projections were made for the
"Now, it's getting more common to take pictures on your phone," another good use for Memory Sticks, she adds.
With the launch of megapixel-class cellular telephones, the file size of images taken with the phone has gotten larger, and using the cellular network to send the images to a PC has become more expensive. As a result, all of NTT DoCoMo's 505-series cellular telephones, launched earlier this year, include memory card slots. And the new Memory Stick Duo is supported by models from Sony and Mitsubishi.
The format is also getting support from Samsung Electronics, which is ranked as the number-three manufacturer of cellular telephones. The company said recently it plans to release its own handset with a Memory Stick slot, which could ship this year. Additionally, Sony is steadily
Looking ahead, Sony has revised upward its predictions for Memory Stick unit shipments. The company's latest forecast says cumulative shipments will reach 75 million cards by the end of March 2004. That is 25 percent higher than the company predicted a year earlier, although well below its expectations of two years ago.
Sony is also predicting 130 million cards will ship by the end of March 2005, and 210 million cards by the end of March 2006.
The unit shipment numbers are higher than predictions made by Kim Soo Kyoum, a semiconductor analyst for IDC. He agrees that cellular telephones with embedded cameras will become a driver for memory card sales, for both Sony and other companies.
About 60 percent of current sales of cards are for digital cameras and a further 30 percent for PC and peripheral use, including digital music players, according to Sony. The remaining 10 percent encompasses other uses, including cellular telephones, and Sony thinks this will rise between 20 percent and 25 percent in the future on the back of increased use with cellular handsets, Shimazu says.
"The main jump will come in 2006 and 2007 when we expect 3G applications will become popular," Kim says, referring to increasing use of Memory Sticks in cellular telephone-related applications.
The growing use of Memory Sticks will eventually push Sony into the number-two position in unit shipments in the memory card market, says IDC's Kim.