CompactFlash has long been the most widely used removable memory card format. However, in the first two months of this year it showed signs that it might soon be replaced by the smaller SD cards.
According to a study by the NPD Group, last year CompactFlash accounted for 34% of the U.S. retail market. During January and February of this year, that number dropped to 27%. While the number of CF cards sold was dropping, SD card sales more than doubled, going from 11% last year to 23% in the first two months of this year. This makes SD cards the second most popular format.
This is happening despite the fact that CF cards are available in larger capacities and for lower prices. Much of SD’s rising popularity has nothing to do with handhelds. An increasing number of consumer-level digital cameras use the smaller cards, like SD or Memory Sticks, rather than the larger CF cards.
Sales of Sony’s Memory Sticks went down slightly at the beginning of this year to 20% of the market, but in January the company announced Memory Stick PRO, a new faster and higher-capacity version. This had to have hurt sales of the current cards, as the new ones weren’t available until late March. Sales of Memory Sticks have been increasing steadily in the last few years.
SmartMedia is definitely a format on its way out. For years it was very popular but so far this year it’s share has dropped from 22% to 16%. In fifth place was the new xD format. Up to now this has been exclusively used in digital cameras, not handhelds.