SanDisk's efforts pit it up against Apple iPods

MILPITAS, CA: Silicon Valley's SanDisk Corp. launched a major PR effort for its new line of MP3 players, which could challenge Apple's iPod nano, both in price and versatility.

MILPITAS, CA: Silicon Valley's SanDisk Corp. launched a major PR effort for its new line of MP3 players, which could challenge Apple's iPod nano, both in price and versatility.

SanDisk launched four versions of its Sansa e280 model player. The smallest, at 2GB, holds the same amount of songs as the low-end nano, but costs $60 less. The 8GB e280 costs $249, the same price as the largest iPod nano, yet it has twice the capacity.

SanDisk is working with Napa, CA-based Lyman PR on the launch. Agency co-owner Carmella Lyman and SanDisk executives briefed The Wall Street Journal's local tech writer a few hours before the news broke a week ago. It was picked up by Reuters, PC Magazine, and the San Francisco Chronicle, along with trade and consumer publications worldwide.

SanDisk is focusing on positioning the Sansa as a versatile option that features FM radio and works with a variety of music services, including Rhapsody, Yahoo Music and Napster.

With the second-largest market share in MP3 players, SanDisk looks to be the only company that can really challenge Apple, analysts say. As such, many journalists hyped the launch as a battle between the two.

"Apple has such a good reputation, that... we don't mind at all," said Bob Goligoski, SanDisk PR director.

SanDisk also will look to place its product in the hands of journalists and other influencers.

The campaign's success also will bank on SanDisk CEO Eli Harari and Eric Bone, director of audio/video product marketing.

"They have to be available to help media with short deadlines for large stories like this," Lyman said, "and also have to eloquently speak to various types of media that contact us."

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