Flash firms increase outreach to variety of markets

SILICON VALLEY, CA: The exploding popularity of ever-smaller handheld devices, from MP3 players to cell phones with digital cameras, is leading to soaring demand for flash memory.

SILICON VALLEY, CA: The exploding popularity of ever-smaller handheld devices, from MP3 players to cell phones with digital cameras, is leading to soaring demand for flash memory.

As opposed to a hard drive, which runs in everything from PCs to some of Apple's larger iPods, flash memory is small, doesn't use much power, and doesn't have any moving parts. A recent USA Today article stated that revenue for the kind of flash used in MP3 players and cell phones is expected to grow nearly 20% a year for the next five years, despite being more expensive.

So as demand soars, flash memory makers are tweaking their PR strategies to take advantage of this growth.

"We're expanding our outreach to more consumer audiences," said Mary Ragland, PR manager for Intel's flash products group. "We're reaching out beyond the electronics trades. We're seeing more interest from the daily press."

Intel is also talking more about its role in the ever-growing consumer electronics market, particularly beyond its PC microprocessors for which it is best known.

"We're talking about Intel as a thought leader and trend setter," she added.

Yet not all flash memory is embedded in devices. Flash is also seeing growth as small memory sticks that consumers can carry with them to transfer information from one device to another.

Lexar, which makes such portable flash devices, is now focusing much more on vertical audiences, said Diane Carlini, director of PR.

"This is now a government story," she said. "It's a law-enforcement story. It's a healthcare story. This is technology that law enforcement can use to carry files or photos, or healthcare companies can use to carry records."

And since these portable memory sticks can now be found in retailers such as Walgreens, Lexar is focused on telling stories beyond the tech savvy.

"This is much more mainstream now," said Carlini. "So we're telling our story around the very specific needs of users."

At SanDisk, which also develops portable flash memory devices, the focus is no longer on education, explained Mike Wong, senior PR manager.

"As price has come down, we're talking more about how you can use our flash memory devices, and the differences in performance," said Wong. "It's not about buying the most capacity for the lowest price. This is not a one size fits all solution."

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