USB2U News

On USB pricing instability

Posted by USB2U on 17th October 2016 | Permalink

NAND* flash prices have been creeping up since the factories in China returned from their Golden Week National Holidays, and unfortunately for us and our customers, they are still on the rise. Industry experts predict that NAND flash prices will continue to rise in Q4 of 2016 due to severe supply shortages. This has a direct impact on the cost of branded USB sticks.

Whilst we do everything in our power to serve our customers with steady products and services there is one thing that is completely out of our hands: the cost of USB flash memory. Whilst we don’t know exactly what is causing the supply and demand issue, we have a strong suspicion that the big players in the smartphone industry, Samsung and Apple, could have something to do with it in the lead up to Christmas.

The cost of flash memory has always been something that fluctuates which is why we only hold our quotes for USB memory sticks for 24-72 hours on average. However over the past few years, pricing had been fairly static with only a slight change from week to week. In contrast over the past week, pricing has been changing on a daily basis, sometimes 2-3 times a day, so we have reduced our quote validity period down to a strict 24 hours.

The weakening of the pound since the EU referendum is another factor influencing the market and pricing levels. Since the vote to leave the European Union was announced, pricing has become even more unsteady and certainly unpredictable. This is due to the impact the vote result has had on the value of the pound and subsequently the dollar exchange rate.

Sometimes the fast changing USB flash pricing can take our customers by surprise, and we fully appreciate this. We always work hard to allow the best possible pricing for our customers, and hope that the market will start showing some stability in the New Year.

 

* The digital memory component that is used in a range of tech goods including smartphones and USB memory sticks.

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With only 50 days until Christmas NOW is the time to order your USB Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 4th November 2015 | Permalink

If you thought Halloween was scary that’s nothing compared to how quickly Christmas is approaching. With only 50 days to go its time to get organised, it’s time to think about what gifts you want to give to your staff and what gifts you want to give to your customers and the service staff (drivers, window cleaners, delivery drivers etc.) that support your business all year round.

If you procrastinate and leave it much later and you may struggle to get exactly what you want and more importantly you might struggle to get your Christmas gifts printed with your logo on and the gifts personalised with unique messages.

Assuming of course that you want to give a gift this year the next challenge is to decide what to give – favourites often include hampers, drinks and chocolates but increasingly companies that give gifts to customers and prospects are looking for something that carries their brand and will last beyond Christmas. If the gift can generate a bit of a “buzz” or “wow” factor when opened that in turn drives Social Media activity then so much the better! When giving gifts to staff branding is obviously less of a requirement!

USB Cards for Christmas

Give a Promotional USB Stick at Christmas

In the promotional gift sector 2015 has been the year of the Power Bank and we expect to see lots of these given away but equally we also expect thousands and thousands of branded USB memory sticks to be handed out. Whilst USB sticks won’t be for everyone when they are printed with a company logo and pre-loaded with a Christmas message they are a brilliant idea.

They work at Christmas not only because they still have a high-perceived value but because of the innovative ways in which you can use the massive amounts of storage on even the cheapest versions – include a short video message, an animated message or a message of thanks from a few key executives within your company or what about recording and loading onto the stick a “flash mob” message. Get creative, think what will inspire people, what will interest people and what will make them laugh and smile. (and take to Social Meida)

Anything you load onto the USB sticks can be made to “auto-run” – this means the content (the video for example) will play automatically when the USB memory stick is connected to any PC or Mac.

At USB2U we can not only supply your Christmas USB sticks but we also have lots of Power Banks that we can supply with your logo printed on. We even offer a personalisation and fulfilment service so you don’t have to worry about boxing them up and sending them out! Interested? Well, just give us a call and we’ll talk you through the options.

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Get Pregnant, Break a Bone or Block your Drains – All ways to get a USB Stick

Posted by USB2U on 16th October 2015 | Permalink

Over the last decade or so we’ve seen USB sticks used for all manner of things but to be fair the majority that we sell are used for promotional purposes. However as CD’s and DVD’s become less and less popular we’re seeing USB sticks used as a direct replacement for them and the breadth of their use is fascinating. Every day we seem to get enquires from new clients who have a new twist on how they plan to use their USB memory sticks.

Some of the more interesting and unusual ideas include the supply of 4D baby scans on a USB stick. Prospective parents used to be happy with a black and white Polaroid photo of their baby scan but now the demand is for a digital copy of the scan is rocketing. Companies like Babybond, the UK’s first ISO Quality Endorsed ultrasound provider are now offering their 4D Bonding Scan results on a USB Memory Stick.

As pioneers of 4D Bonding Scans (and the supply of the scans on USB sticks) they remain at the forefront of innovation in their field. Babybond are strong advocates of the service because they argue that the scans, which are a combination of still and moving images promote levels of early mother and child “bonding” that were simply unattainable prior to the introduction of their service.

BabyBond USB Memory Stick

BabyBond USB Memory Stick

It’s a similar story with broken bones, torn ligaments and fractures – we’re now seeing companies that offer private MRI scans using USB memory sticks rather than CD’s/DVD’s. A digital copy of the MRI scan is supplied at the end of the assessment. Supplying a copy of the scan is not new but the supply of it on a USB Stick is. With less and less PC’s and Mac’s now shipping without a CD/DVD player it’s become important for many businesses to make the shift to USB sticks

Companies dealing with blocked drains are the latest to use USB Sticks instead of CD’s and DVD’s – its typical of these companies to send a CCTV camera into the drains to carry out a “survey” of the drains before they start digging them up! The subsequent digital “video survey” is then copied onto a USB sticks and supplied to the customer with a quote for the remedial works needed. Again the arguments for the use of a USB stick are the same; ease of use, size, cost and of course they can be printed up with a logo, brand and contact details.

The common thread running through all of these examples is the need to provide “customers” with high quality digital images – if you work in a sector or profession that might benefit from making the move from CD/DVD to USB Sticks then please give us a call. We’d love to hear from you.

 

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WOW – USB Memory Sticks go wireless.

Posted by USB2U on 7th October 2015 | Permalink

The humble USB stick has been with us for over a decade and in that time it’s evolved from a relatively niche product with a tiny amount of storage (8MB) into something that is now so ubiquitous that you can buy them at the end of shopping aisles along with the sweets and chewing gum!

As well as the millions purchased each year for personal use further millions are given away each year as promotional gifts – the world has literally become awash with USB sticks and the demand for them shows no real sign of slowing down.

The one issue the USB stick has is it’s inability to work with the latest smart phones and tablets – yes, there are some cable/adapter workarounds on the market but they’re messy.

Know the inability to connect to the growing range of mobile devices was the Achilles heel of the USB stick the clever people at Sandisk have been working on a solution – step forward the latest USB memory stick – the Wireless Flash Drive or “Wireless Stick” as Sandisk call it.

This remarkable product works just like a conventional flash drive BUT it also works wirelessly. You can connect to the drive locally or over the internet (you will need to install the Sandisk Connect App) and it’s really simple to use.

Backing up, sharing and storing files was never easier. Use it to free up storage space on your smartphone, use it make information available to your colleagues in a meeting (just give them access to the wireless stick and they can share the data) or better still just share your photos and music around with your family and friends – its really easy.

You can even use the App that Sandisk supply to automatically copy your photos and videos every time the Wireless Stick is connected – Wow!

Of course there is a price to pay for such brilliance and that’s the cost of the sticks – prices range from £35 to £105 but this is across a memory (storage) range from 16Gb to 128GB!!

They’re too expensive at the moment to consider for the promotional market but over time prices are likely to drop and Sandisk are likely to license out their solution so keep an eye on our site for updates. We know how many of our customers are looking for a x-platform solution at an affordable price so we’ll aim to make “brandable” versions available just as soon as we can.

Wireless USB Flash Drives

Wireless USB Flash Drives – now a reality

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Oh Dear – Perhaps we could interest the Welsh RFU in some USB Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 4th October 2015 | Permalink

It was never supposed to end like this. So much was promised, so much was expected and so much was invested in it but in the end the English rugby team failed to deliver. Dumped out of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in the Group Stages, a World Cup that they are hosting and they are setting records in but for all the wrong reasons!

For England there is just the dead rubber game against Uruguay to go but let’s face it even a thumping great win against Uruguay will do nothing to paper over the huge cracks that have developed in the English game, its management and its structure over the last few weeks.

The commentators, journalists, pundits and armchair experts are of course having a field day and most expect the Head Coach Stuart Lancaster to either fall on his sword or face the ignominy of being fired at the end of England’s short lived participation in the competition.

From a purely selfish point of view, as a supplier of branded USB memory sticks to the English RFU, we wanted them to progress, we wanted them to challenge all the way and we wanted them to make it to the final and ultimately to win – A win would almost certainly have lead to an increase in the marketing and advertising budget available to the RFU and this in turn would most probably have lead to a requirement for more England RFU branded USB sticks – sadly this is now unlikely to be the case.

As a Northampton based company we’re also worried. Northampton is a “Rugby Town”. Many of us at USB2U are life long Northampton Saints Rugby Club supporters. We’ve been a club sponsor and a supplier to Northampton Saints and we care passionately about our team. It’s a team that under the stewardship of Jim Mallinder and Dorian West has become one of the best teams in the Premiership and it’s no secret that Jim and Dorian were being strongly touted as candidates for England when Lancaster was appointed. If Lancaster should, as seems likely, go then once again Jim and Dorian are likely to be on the short list to replace him and his current coaching team.

Losing to Australia and going out of the Rugby World cup was bad enough, losing the opportunity to supply more branded USB sticks to the RFU is equally bad but losing Jim and Dorian to the English RFU would be catastrophic

And no, supplying USB sticks to the Welsh RFU would not make up for it!

 

England World Cup USB Sticks

England World Cup USB Sticks

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School DT Project Idea – Design & Build Your Own USB Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 9th September 2015 | Permalink

Could you be the next James Dyson or Richard Branson. Have you got an urge to design and build your own products or perhaps you’re happier dreaming up creative ways to market and sell your product ideas. Perhaps you hanker after trying out your ideas on sites like Kickstarter and trying to raise some financial backing – with the emergence of the Internet there are now loads of way to get your ideas supported.

At many schools in the UK you’ll be given the chance during your Design and Technology classes to come up with a new product idea – you’ll be challenged to design something, produce a prototype, think about the manufacturing challenges, think about your target customer(s), think about how you’ll brand it, market it, sell in and hopefully make money from it. Think of it as a Dragon’s Den for the classroom!

If you’re struggling for ideas (and lots of people do) then you might want to think of designing and building your own custom USB memory sticks? It’s easier than you might think, it’s great fun and there are lots of different creative ways to use these familiar products. USB sticks are commonly used as promotional give-aways but they are also used to load baby 3D and 4D scans onto, to load MRI scans on, to record track day data on at places like Silverstone, to market new housing developments – the list goes on and one!

A very simple idea is to just design a USB stick to be sold at your school but rather than just buying standard factory designed USB flash drives and printing your school crest or logo one why not get the sticks made in a design unique to the school. Anything is possible and some great results can be achieved relatively easily because if you can get your hands on the core components its really just an assembly job.

Inside most USB Memory Sticks are three core components; a memory module, a controller chip and a capacitor – these are typically pre-assembled onto a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) and connected to a USB interface. The PCB can then be embedded into any outer casing to create a unique USB flash drive. Just like any commercially available (and assembled) USB flash drive you can buy the PCB’s in a range of memory capacities starting at 128MB all the way up to 32GB.

If you fancy having a go at building your own USB sticks (perhaps as part of a school project) then we can supply you with all the components you need including any accessories your might want for your finished product including key ring attachments, lanyards and gift-boxes.

We have a minimum order of 50 pieces for the PCB USB’s so if you did want to get a project off the ground and you’re not a school or company then get your entrepreneurial hat on and start raising the capital you need.

Build Your Own USB Stick

Build Your Own USB Stick

 

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Is Fiat Chrysler about to order 1.4 Million USB Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 27th July 2015 | Permalink

Just days after Wired magazine revealed that it was possible to hack a Jeep Cherokee via its internet-connected entertainment system and take control of it whilst in motion Fiat Chrysler have announced a recall of 1.4 million vehicles to fix the problem.

Fiat Chrysler has said it was “unaware of any injuries related to software exploitation” but nevertheless they have moved reasonably swiftly to deal with the issue and the subsequent media furor that has followed the story breaking.

The fact that the hackers were able take control of the cars brakes, the throttle and the pretty much everything else in the car (apart from the steering although apparently they could control this as well if the car was put in reverse) demonstrates the severity of the issue and explains why Fiat Chrysler have responded so quickly!

Although defined as a “voluntary recall” most customers won’t have to take the vehicles back to the dealers to get them fixed instead they will be sent a USB Stick with instructions on how to plug it in and upgrade the vehicles software.

Customers who don’t want to wait for Fiat Chrysler to send them a USB Memory Stick with the patched software on can instead download the upgrade and transfer it to their own flash drive and plug this into the vehicle.

With around 1.4 million vehicles affected (most manufactured between 2013 -2015) the upgrade is going to be a huge challenge. Only cars in the USA using the company’s uConnect wireless systems are affected.

If Fiat Chrysler, as seems likely, take the decision to proactively issue 1.4 million USB memory sticks with the patch pre-loaded onto them, then someone is going to pick up what could be the largest ever single order for memory sticks in the history of the device!

Who would have thought when they were first introduced well over a decade ago that USB sticks would be used to upload new software to cars to prevent hackers taking control of the cars whilst in use! In fact who would have thought a decade ago that we’d be talking about hackers remotely controlling cars (whilst in use on the roads) over public mobile phone networks. It all sounds like the stuff of a science fiction novel but it just demonstrates how scarily fast technology is moving these days.

Twister USB Flash Drives

Twister USB Sticks

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Barclays Customer Data Found on USB Memory Stick

Posted by USB2U on | Permalink

A USB memory stick recovered by Police in Brighton in February this year contained the personal details of 13,000 Barclays customers. The information which included names, date of birth, addresses and in some cases employment details and NI numbers is thought to have been in the hands of fraudsters for around 7 years!

It’s unclear exactly how the data was originally taken but Barclays, who are clearly embarrassed by this further breach, have acted swiftly and contacted all of the impacted customers and proactively offered them each £250 in compensation.

A Barclays spokesman said: ‘This is not a new theft of data from Barclays. Every indication is that the data here was part of the same theft of data that was reported last year, relating to data stolen in 2008. It is simply a separate USB data stick that was not received at that point in time and was recently discovered by the police.”

They go on to add: ‘‘We are asking each customer to call if they feel their individual circumstances warrant different compensation, especially if they believe that they had a fraudulent event at any point since this data was stolen.”

To be clear it is not believed Barclays stored the data on the USB stick in the first place. It was more likely copied onto the stick by the original fraudsters but the whole episode does once again highlight just how easily stolen data can be distributed.

Barclays USB Flash Drives

Barclays USB Flash Drives

Most of the USB sticks we supply are used as part of simple brand development or marketing campaigns and as such any information stored (or pre-loaded) onto them is unlikely to be sensitive. If you do plan to distribute any USB sticks that you buy from us with confidential data on then we strongly recommend that you ask about the range of encrypted and password protected USB sticks that we offer.

Encrypted and password protected flash drives will cost a little more but this small extra cost is tiny when compared to potential compensation payouts. The compensation that Barclays have offered each of the 13,000 customers whose data was found on the USB stick by police in Brighton compensation will total £3.25 million! Ouch!

Better still don’t use USB sticks to distribute customer confidential data on in the first place. That might sound strange coming from a USB stick supplier but it’s not in our interests to see a popular promotional giveaway “demonised” by the actions of a few people who should know better.

 

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USB Sticks Popular in the Medical Sector

Posted by USB2U on 22nd July 2015 | Permalink

BabyBond USB Memory Stick

BabyBond USB Memory Stick

Over the last decade or so we’ve seen USB sticks used for all manner of things, but to be fair the majority that we sell are used for promotional purposes. However, as CD’s and DVD’s become less and less popular we’re seeing USB sticks used as a direct replacement, and the breadth of their use is fascinating. Every day we seem to get enquires from new clients who have a new twist on how they plan to use their USB memory sticks.

For example, companies dealing with blocked drains are the latest to use USB Sticks instead of CD’s and DVD’s – it’s typical of these companies to send a CCTV camera into the drains to carry out a “survey” of the drains before they start digging them up! The subsequent digital “video survey” is then copied onto a USB sticks and supplied to the customer with a quote for the remedial works needed.

MRI Scans

Perhaps more interestingly is the adoption of USB sticks by private companies in the medical sector. We’re now seeing companies such as Vista Diagnostics offering private MRI scans using USB memory sticks rather than CD’s/DVD’s to record and supply images of broken bones, torn ligaments and fractures to their clients and clinicians. A digital copy of the MRI scan is taken and then supplied on a USB stick at the end of the assessment. Private medical scans are not as expensive as you might think, and in most cases you can get seen and have your scan done in a couple of days.

Private Ultrasound Scans

Another such example would be Babybond, the UK’s first ISO Quality Endorsed ultrasound provider. They are now offering their 4D Bonding Scan results on a USB Memory Stick, as an addition to the traditional printed images they supply for the proud parents-to-be to take home. It’s a great idea because it allows the proud parents to easily share their scans with friends and family on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Babybond are strong advocates of the service because they argue that the scans, which provide a combination of still and moving images, promote levels of early mother and child “bonding” that were simply unattainable prior to the introduction of their service.

Both Vista Diagnostics and Babybond give their scan images out on branded memory sticks, which in turn is a point of differentiation and increased brand exposure, and is also likely to be a more popular option with their clients. Also, as more desktop PC manufacturers phase CD/DVD drawers out of new build computers, viewing on a memory stick could be the only option for some clients.

The common thread running through all of these examples is the need to provide “customers” with high quality digital images – if you work in a sector or profession that might benefit from making the move from CD/DVD to USB Sticks then please give us a call. We’d love to hear from you.

 

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Free Data Loading on Promotional USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 5th June 2015 | Permalink

It’s been over 12 years since we first started selling promotional USB memory sticks and the demand for them today is stronger than ever. Other technology based promotional gifts have come and gone during this time but USB sticks have stubbornly clung on.

The reason for their enduring appeal seems to be down to a few key factors; people like them, they’re relatively inexpensive (but have a high perceived value) and more fundamentally they keep giving more for less! By this we mean that today you’ll pay broadly the same for a 8GB USB stick, as you would have done for a 64MB USB stick a decade ago! That’s a huge increase in data storage capacity with no comparative increase cost – no other type of promotional gift (that we can think of) continually offers more in this way.

With branded (USB sticks printed with your logo) 8GB sticks costing less than £2 each (depending on volume and stick type) they really do represent fantastic value. Think about it – 8GB is the standard storage offered on the iPhone C and you can get this for less than £2.

USB Data Loading Services from USB2U

USB Data Loading Services from USB2U

Of course this amount of storage is crying out to be used so when customers buy their promotional flash drives from us we strongly advocate using the memory they are paying for is loaded with whatever promotional material they can digitise and make available. Why, we, it’s a great way to distribute information about your company, your products or your event at very little cost. Compared to the price of printing, transporting and distributing the collateral the benefits and savings are significant.

If you do plan to load data onto your USB memory sticks before you distribute them then you will need to get organised and have your data ready. If you don’t want to go through the pain of loading the data onto the USB sticks yourself then ask us to do it for you. We use our own in-house professional data loading and data duplication equipment to load the data onto your memory sticks and by allowing us to do it we can check the data is loaded correctly on each and every USB stick (The professional data loading kit does this using some clever “checksum” algorithms.

Any style, shape, design or memory size of flash drive can be pre-loaded with data and pretty much any format of data can be loaded. Popular examples of data files that are typically used include; PDF’s, PowerPoint Slides, Excel Spreadsheets, Word Documents, Links to websites and media files.

If you buy your promotional USB memory sticks from us and you are interested in our offer of FREE data loading (T&C’s apply)then just mention this to your Account Manager and they’ll talk you through the options.

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