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Archive for April, 2012

Price of 8GB Promotional USB Flash Drops by 50% in 12 months

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Over the last 12 months the price of flash memory has followed a long established downward trend but compared to previous year on year falls the drop in prices over the last 12 months have been pretty dramatic.

If you’d been looking to buying 8GB promotional USB flash drives printed with your logo and pre-loaded with your company data this time two years ago then you’d have expected to pay around £15 per USB stick. A year ago the same USB sticks would have cost around £10 each but today the price (depending on the quantity ordered) has dropped to around £4- £5 per unit!

That’s a huge amount of professionally produced and printed data storage for about the cost of a large swanky coffee! Just think about how many documents, catalogues, price lists, movie files etc. you could fit onto an 8GB drive and give out or send to your customers – give them an 8GB USB drive and they’ll almost certainly keep it and use it because whatever you pre-load onto it before your hand them out and they’ll still be tons of space left for your customers or clients to load their own data onto the drive.

USB Price Falls

USB Price Falls

Unsurprisingly with these price reductions what we used to consider “larger” USB capacity sizes (4GB and 8GB) are now becoming the de facto choice for many. After all, the price differential between 1GB sticks and 8GB sticks is now only a £1 or two but the perceived value of an 8GB flash drive is still incredibly high.

A consequence of the move to larger flash memory sizes is that smaller “give-away” memory sizes of 128MB, 256MB and 512MB are getting harder to source – the simple reason for this is that very few factories (if any) are still producing memory chips of this size because it is simply not cost effective for them to do so. Effectively these small memory chips have gone “end of life” and where they are offered they are often re-cycled chips or “off-cuts” from chips that were originally destined to be larger chips.

Underpinning the price falls are a combination of seasonal price falls (late Spring and early Summer is a quiet period for the factories and pricing reflects the sluggish demand), Moore’s Law (which states that the number of transistors on a chip will double approximately every two years), and a weakening USD ($) – flash memory is priced in $’s so any weakness against the GBP (£) = lower prices.

So, when you think promotional USB flash drives don’t think cheap and cheerful 128MB sticks but think cheap and very happy 8GB sticks!

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Does Google Drive Sound the Death Knell for USB Flash Drives

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Whilst some critics are saying they are late to the market the announcement yesterday by Google of their new “Google Drive” service will have competitors like Dropbox and Microsoft (SkyDrive) quaking in their boots.  Hanns Kohler-Kruner from tech research firm Gartner has said “Google Drive will hit some competitors very hard and shake up the market,”

The free entry level option gives users 5GB (gigabytes) of storage. Options to increase the amount of storage (up to a maximum of 16TB) have also been launched but at the top end it’ll cost you $799.99. A more realistic 100GB of storage is available at $4.99 per month which compares favourably to Dropbox who currently charge $25 per month for a similar amount of storage.

Essentially Google Drive is a “Cloud based” storage solution that will allow users to upload and download data (files, pictures, videos, etc.) from their PC or Mac, their mobile phone or tablet. Android phones are supported from the get go and an update is expected within weeks to support iPhones.

With Google now entering the market will people still use or want portable storage options like USB Flash Drives? After all, why pay for a small USB stick that you might lose or break when you can simply upload your data safely and securely to a cloud based storage option like Google Drive. Not only that but whether you use Google, Dropbox or Microsoft you’ll expect your data to be accessible wherever you are and without any worries of it ever being lost or corrupted. With such compelling arguments why would you buy/use a USB flash drive?

Well for some people handing over their precious/sensitive data to Google and entrusting them to keep it secure is a “non-starter”. Worries of who will have access to the data, vulnerability to hacking and just general paranoia about not being able to “physically hold it” mean the solution is not going to be for everyone. But, for your average home user/student, particularly those with the latest smartphones and a Gmail accounts, an integrated Google solution is going to be a formidable option and services like these will gradually erode the use of USB flash drives in the consumer market.

Promotional USB Flash Drives

Promotional USB Flash Drives

Interestingly though, sales of promotional USB flash drives have never been stronger. Companies wishing to distribute data or provide a relatively inexpensive “branded giveaway” are now using USB flash drives in preference to CD’s and DVD’s and it’s a trend that looks set to continue. Underpinning the growth is a realisation that USB sticks have a high perceived value, they’re small and portable and they look great printed. It’s also cheaper to supply electronic brochures, price lists, catalogues etc. on a branded USB flash drive than it is to get them printed and distributed.

In response manufacturers and suppliers of promotional USB flash drives are continually bringing out new products to drive the market. Recent innovations include wafer thin credit card style USB flash drives that are only 2mm thick and bamboo USB flash drives that play well in the re-cycled/environmentally conscious market.

So, whilst consumers might start to reduce their spend on portable USB flash drives (in favour of cloud based solutions) they are increasingly likely to be given USB flash drives by companies looking for a way to communicate with them in a more innovative and cost effective manner.

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Mark the Occasion with a Printed USB Memory Stick

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

If you’ve got a special event coming up then whether its something personal or business related you’re probably going to want to let people know about it, share you enthusiasm for it and excitement about it and generally let people know how they can join you in marking the occasion.

Increasingly in such circumstances people are using USB memory sticks printed with details of the event to achieve such a goal. Business examples include companies launching a new product, unveiling a new building, launching a new website or introducing a new product/pricing mix.

On the personal front printed USB memory sticks are frequently being used to celebrate the birth of a child, to announce an engagement and to celebrate a wedding (typically the printed USB sticks are circulated around family and friends but only after they have been loaded up with photos, video clips and music). Weddings in particular seem to be a strong area of growth for the USB stick with the happy couple now giving them away as wedding favours (pre-loaded of course with photos of the courtship, the stag and hen nights, personal mementos and pictures of the wedding) and professional wedding photographers are getting in on the act by using high quality USB sticks and packaging to differentiate their service and provide something a little bit different.

Printed USB Sticks - Weddings

Printed USB Sticks - Weddings

Schools are not being left out either with many now using printed USB memory sticks and USB wristbands to hand out to prospective pupils and parents at open days, to help students carry their work to/from home, to raise funds for school trips and expeditions  and to generally raise the awareness of the school in the local community.

Charities are also finding printed USB memory sticks are a great way to get their message out in a format that encourages participation and donation. Rather than just sending a prospective supporter a flyer or inert Direct Mail pack by sending them a USB memory stick pre-loaded with photos, videos, Direct Debit Mandate forms and links to their web sites, their donation pages etc. they are able to communicate much more effectively and at a deeper level – unlike standard DM packs very few people will simply throw away a USB stick without first plugging it into a computer  and if you load the right data in the right format you’ll get their attention.

So, if you have a special event coming up soon and you want something a little bit different to help you mark the occasion then why not use a printed USB memory stick – you can get them today for less than £2 each (printed and pre-loaded) and if you speak to the right suppliers they can be with you in as little as 24-48hrs so if you’re one of those people that leaves everything to the last minute they are still a possibility.

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Engraved USB Flash Drives – The Smarter Choice

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

If the USB flash drives you are going to hand out are going to carry your logo and you want this logo to last then printing your logo onto the flash drive is not always the best or only option. Let’s face it most people that are given a USB flash drive (certainly the type that can attached to a key ring) will typically attach it to a bunch of keys, attach it to their bag or simply leave it rattling around in their purse or pocket with their loose change.

Engraved USB Flash Drives

Engraved USB Flash Drives

If they do any of these things with your carefully printed USB flash drives then pretty soon any printed logo on the USB stick is going to take some severe punishment and is ultimately going to succumb and start to rub/scratch off. It doesn’t matter how good the initial print job was, what time of print primer was used, whether the print is “protected” with a spot varnish of lacquer because once the surface tension of the ink is broken it will start to chip or flake away. Fact.

An alternative to printing is engraving – this is where your logo is etched (typically by a laser cutter or engraver) into the shell of the USB drive. Once the shell has been physically marked with a laser it’s done for good and it doesn’t matter what sort of punishment the sticks are exposed to after they have been engraved because the engraved logo will still be there.

Whilst you can’t engrave in colour, engraved products do look incredibly professional and ooze quality but more importantly the logo (or name/serial number) that is engraved is there for good. If you’re paying for products like USB sticks to be customised with your logo then as well as how they look the durability of the logo you print onto them has to be a key factor.

Engraving is an option on a wide range of USB memory sticks including wood (bamboo), some plastics, leather and lots of different metal and anodised metal variants. Anodised Twister USB flash drives (these are the types without a cap) are particularly popular because they come in a wide range of different colours and the engraving looks more like a fine print rather than “classic” engraving.

engraved wood USB flash drives

engraved wood USB flash drives

So, next time you are considering buying some branded USB Flash Drives don’t just automatically think about getting them printed but instead look at the options like engraving and consider if this might be a better choice for your brand, your needs and ultimately your customers (the people you are giving them to). Engraved USB flash drives are no more expensive than their printed counterparts and they take no longer to produce and supply. Some suppliers like USB2U (who hold lots of USB sticks in stock) can turn around engraved USB drives in as little as 24hrs!

If you’re not sure which option is best for you then ask for samples – these are typically free and seeing engraved Vs printed in the flesh should help you make the right choice.

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Extend the Memory of Your Raspberry Pi computer with A USB Flash Drive

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

It looks like the wait is finally over and the first batches of the eagerly anticipated Raspberry Pi computer are finally shipping.  OK, so they are being sent out a little later than originally planned because of manufacturing hiccups and last minute compliance testing but within the next few days the very first users of this sub £30 (including VAT and shipping) computer will be able to start connecting it all up and get coding!

Raspberry-PI

Raspberry-PI

Whilst it might not be the prettiest of products it has managed to generate a huge amount of interest and demand not least amongst developers, schools, hobbyists and others keen to get their hands on a cheap, easy-to-use computer.

The organization behind the Raspberry Pi, the Raspberry Pi Foundation (a UK registered charity) describes the Pi as “a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming.”

The Pi is built around the Arm chip that is used in the vast majority of mobile phones. It runs one version of the Linux operating system and uses SD cards as its “on-board” storage medium but it comes with USB ports so you easily add additional memory using a USB flash drive or other USB connected storage.

With the price of USB flash memory plummeting at the moment you could easily add an extra 2Gb – 8GB of extra storage from just a couple of pounds!

If you’re a school and you’re planning to buy the Raspberry Pi for your students then you might also want to think about getting some USB flash drives produced with your school logo or crest on specifically for use with the Raspberry Pi.  Better still, get them produced with the students names on and the Raspberry Pi logo (with the permission of the Raspberry Pi Foundation of course) and this way they can have their own personalized USB flash drives that are specifically for use with the computers and onto which their PC work can be saved.

If you really want to challenge the students you could buy them bare bones USB connectors and get them to design and build their own Raspberry Pi Flash Drives for use with the computer – ideal for students looking to take Design Technology and IT and a great way to excite them about both disciplines.

USB2U, one of the UK leading suppliers of printed USB Flash Drives can deliver (often within as little as 24hrs) printed or engraved USB Flash Drives.

“Raspberry Pi is a trademark of the Raspberry Pi Foundation”.

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