The year 2020 has been like no other. The headlines, market changes and trends of this year have tested society in unprecedented ways and made most people around the world rethink not only priorities, but also what’s possible. In the midst of these challenges, the SD Association (SDA) marked its 20th anniversary. For two decades, the association and its members have developed progressive standards and evolved SD and microSD technology to meet new market needs and drive new opportunities.
The SDA introduced SD Express via the microSD SD7.1 specification in anticipation of new market demands for high performance applications such as mobile computing, gaming, Internet of Things (IoT) and more. In May 2020, the SDA published the SD Express Host Design Guide. for developers to fully take advantage of this new specification, including the integration of the popular PCIe/NVMe interface while maintaining full backward compatibility. This paves the way for new devices that capitalize on never-before-seen memory car,/pd capabilities for microSD form factors.
With that, there are several new trends in the removable memory card space that are making waves and worth keeping an eye on.
microSD Memory Card Trend Roundup
Content and COVID-19
The most notable issue of the year has been the COVID-19 outbreak and its subsequent fallout. During the pandemic, most people found themselves relegated to working and attending school from home on top of following social distancing rules. In the wake of these changes, people have been taking, uploading and downloading more family photos and videos that document their lives. So much so that according to The Verge, Google Photos will no longer back up social media folders by default. The article quoted a support page that read, “People are sharing more photos and videos due to COVID-19. To save internet resources, backup & sync has been turned off for device folders created by messaging apps like WhatsApp, Messages, and Kik.”i
People have also been spending much more of their time online. By all accounts, social media usage is way up and some estimates show among adults, messaging services like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Apple iMessage have gone up by 500 percent.ii
As one might expect, streaming services have seen large boosts in viewership and content downloads from services such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Roku, Apple TV, SonyLIV, Joyn+ and many others are trending upwards. Consumers regularly download and watch content from these services on their phones and tablets, driving up the need for more storage.
These and many other factors are driving an unprecedented demand for larger, faster, and more interoperable storage capabilities.
8K is on the Way
While 4K is still a big deal today, it is trending towards even higher resolution—the market is slowly gearing up to fully embrace all things 8K. This resolution will dramatically increase storage needs and larger file sizes will benefit from the microSD Express capabilities to deliver the amped up evolution of the 8K AV experience. With access to the SD 7.1 standard defining microSD Express’ robust capabilities, manufacturers can now easily develop products that leverage the new memory card capacity requirements and handle the maximum read speed and write speed requirements to not only capture 8K content, but view and share it without a second thought.
See the World in Different Ways
New capabilities enable new levels of creativity. More cameras, smartphones and other devices will provide the ability to film Super Slow Mo videos with high-speed capabilities of 960 frames per second (fps). It plays video 32 times slower than normal videos, which run at 30fps, and four times slower than videos shot with traditional Slow Motion options, which record at 240fps.This lets users capture moments that are normally too fast for the human eye to see, adding incredible new insights into how the world is perceived, adding value to art, product demos, scientific pursuits and every-day life.
Other image capture techniques and technologies that are trending include continuous burst mode photography and 360 degree video. People are using these techniques to secure the perfect image to tell the story of a moment in time. All of which requires faster speeds and larger storage capacities.
Gaming gadgets and systems will see huge gains in the coming year; particularly in the portable gaming arena. Many of these devices offer onboard storage, but in a limited supply – as little as 32GB. Voracious gaming consumers are demanding more action and smoother gameplay. As such, more manufacturers are giving users the ability to instantly expand their storage options with microSD slots.
Looking forward, multiplying the transfer speeds with microSD Express memory cards will give gaming console and gadget developers the power to wow even the most demanding fans in new and exciting ways. Portable gaming is only getting bigger.
Video is being incorporated into more products than ever imagined 20 years ago. Drones, security cameras (for professional and consumer use), wildlife cameras and pet cams are starting to become ubiquitous. And we can’t forget action cameras. Globally, the action camera market size is expected to reach $8.9 billion by 2025. Users want to document their hiking, climbing, bicycling, snowboarding, motorcycling, skateboarding and skiing adventures. New advancements in camera technologies have increased demand for new film-making options such as special effects are anticipated. Many of these cameras are equipped with dual microSD memory card slots to ensure every moment is always captured. As camera resolutions increase, so will the need for larger capacity and faster cards.
Increased adoption of dashcams around the world is another growth area for microSD memory cards. China and Russia already have huge numbers of drivers relying on these cameras to prevent insurance fraud. As other countries expand their use by consumers, there’s also a large B2B market ready to adopt these cameras for delivery trucks, vans, cars and taxis.
Higher storage capabilities and the new levels of transfer speeds with microSD Express will help fuel product demand and creative new uses for these and countless other devices.
Hiroyuki Sakamoto is president of the SD Association. He can be reached at
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i Nick Stat, The Verge, June 29, 2020, Google Photos will no longer backup social media folders by default, https://www.theverge.com/2020/6/29/21307653/google-photos-backup-social-media-apps-saving-space-default
ii Alexandra Samet, Business Insider, June 9, 2020, US SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE: How the Coronavirus is Changing Consumer Behavior, https://www.businessinsider.com/2020-us-social-media-usage-report
iii KBV Research, December, 2019, ACTION CAMERA MARKET SIZE, https://www.kbvresearch.com/action-camera-market/