0800 008 7079

USB2U News

Why do the prices of USB sticks change so much?

Posted by USB2U on 16th January 2018 | Permalink

A question we get asked quite a lot here at USB2U from our repeat customers is why the price of their branded USB sticks has changed since they last ordered? A valid question that I think we need to address. As hard as it is to believe we don’t actually enjoy charging our customers more for their USBs when cost prices go up, especially when they have used us as their trusted promotional supplier over so many years.

Unfortunately, it all comes down to the way flash drives are manufactured and how the supply chain effectively operates. Below, we’ll go through just some of the challenges that we as a company face when it comes to pricing our USBs on a daily basis.

 

How are Flash Drives made?

All modern flash drives will start out life on what is called a Silicon Wafer, a thin, delicate structure designed for integrated circuits that are found in flash drives, computers and even mobile phones.

FACT: Silicon is the most common semi-conductor on Earth and the most widely used in the electronic and technology sector.

Silicon WaferSilicon Wafer

Each Silicon Wafer is designed to be broken into multiple pieces for use in a variety of different components including USB drives. Many pieces will be serialised and can be stacked together to create 3D integrated circuits which are more complex and offer a greater level of density. Larger memory size USBs will inherently contain more wafer layers inside of them.

In general, the silicon wafer will be used to create NAND chips. Such chips are non-volatile meaning they do not require a constant power supply to preserve the data stored onto them, making them ideal for flash memory devices.NAND Chip

NAND chips are manufactured specifically in fabrication plants or ‘fabs’ for short. Only a small number of these factories exist in the world, and therefore have direct control over the overall supply and, more importantly, the day-to-day market price. The majority of these factories are located in China, however, some facilities also exist in Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea.

These chips are considered to be a critical component in a number of electronic devices, not just USB sticks. Modern computers, smartphones, and tablets all have NAND chips within them, thus all companies in these markets will inevitably purchase from the same supply chain. This, of course, creates problems if demand increases or there are issues in other market sectors as these will have a knock-on effect on supply and ultimately, market price.

NAND Chips ManufacturingNAND Chip uses

NAND Chip Demand Issues

The smartphone market, in particular, is notorious for causing supply chain issues.

Big tech companies with large buying power such as Samsung and Apple will often purchase huge quantities of NAND chips for use in the production of their latest smartphones.

This therefore significantly reduces the overall supply available in the market which causes the price to subsequently rise for everyone else looking to buy, including us!

While it has gotten easier over the years for factories to cope with such large orders, new tech products are being created all the time with many subsequently requiring flash memory to function.

NAND Chip Demand Issues

NAND Chip Supply Issues

It’s not just demand issues which can affect the price of USBs, it can also be supply based as well. The most expensive times to buy USB Flash Drives are February/March and September/October time where China observe their own national holidays.

You may have heard us before talking about how it’s important to order USBs before the Chinese New Year and Golden Week, well the reason for this is that production factories including ‘fabs’ close for up to 2-3 weeks over these periods. This causes a rise in demand, due to a shortage in production, which in turn leads to prices sharply rising. We ourselves have seen an increase in cost-price from 30p to anywhere up to £1.20 per unit before, during these periods.

USB China Holidays

Because only a small number of factories exist in the world if only a few of them close for just a few days, the price of the chips would likely go up. This was very much the case back in 2011 when Japan was hit with an earthquake and tsunami causing many factories to close, which consequently halted production of NAND chips out of the country for several days and ultimately led to prices increasing.

 

Exchange Rate Fluctuations 

Exchange rate fluctuations in general cause headaches for many businesses out there who buy from abroad. When it comes to buying NAND flash the issue is no different. Many companies, including ourselves, have to purchase these chips using US$ dollars and convert back into £’s. If the exchange rate is unfavourable between the two the overall cost price will inherently increase. This has been most apparent in recent years due to Brexit where the £ substantially depreciated against the $ and therefore we as a company ended up paying substantially more for flash drives. Even today the £’s value hasn’t quite reached the same level as it was before the referendum, therefore those who haven’t ordered from us in a while may see a noticeable increase in the price of their branded USB sticks.

Exchange Rate FluctuationsEU Referendum

Things to keep in mind when you next order USBs

NAND chips could be considered a tech commodity as their price is always determined by current supply and demand similar to that of Gold and Oil. There are times of year where prices will tend to rise and also times where they will go down, it’s always worth having a little look to see what is happening in the sector.

If you’re looking to purchase large quantities of USBs the following tips may be able to help you determine when best to buy:

  1. Look to order before February and September to avoid the closure of factories in China and the price rises that follow.
  2. Watch out for tech news especially related to new/upcoming product launches by large companies. These should give you an indication that the price of USB flash memory is set to increase.

 

What we can do at our end…

USB2U has become quite adept over the years of being able to predict when price rises are expected and will always try and order stock in advance. This means we can hold a variety of USBs in our own UK stock which helps to reduce some of the price volatility experienced.

Like any other commodity however, there is still an unpredictability to ordering at any time of year as prices can change daily, this is why our quotes are only usually valid for a limited time.

USB Price VolatilityUSB2U Standard Delivery

USB2U Guarantee and Promotional Tech

Our dedicated team will always do their best to get you the best price possible on your promotional USBs. Often we will look at several supplier options before coming back to you with a quote ensuring we try and obtain the best possible price.

Even if you find a cheaper supplier elsewhere, it is always best to check with us, as in most cases we will able to price match a like-for-like quote.

If you’re still not satisfied with the price quoted for your USBs why not take a look at some of our other promotional tech products including Power Banks, Speakers and Headphones to name a few!

Contact our sales staff at +44 (0)1604 684 811 or [email protected]. Alternatively, you can also visit our website to see the full range of products on offer.

Back

The Actual Memory Size of your USB Flash Drive

Posted by USB2U on 15th November 2017 | Permalink

If you have ever come across a USB flash drive before, you will probably have noticed that they are often advertised by a set memory size which usually ranges anywhere from 128MB – 256 GB.  While this is the case, when you insert a USB stick into a computer you’ll often find that the storage space you actually have on the device doesn’t quite match up to what was originally advertised. This is something our customers question us about quite frequently, as for many a 32GB USB should be just that, 32GB in storage space.

 

Where does the loss of storage space occur?

The storage loss is down primarily to the way in which a computer naturally reads data and how manufacturers choose to advertise storage capacities. While we would perceive 1 kilobyte of data is equal to 1000 bytes this isn’t exactly accurate due to the way in which data is stored using binary code on a computer (think 1 and 0’s), which means that 1 kilobyte is actually equal to 1024 bytes so not a rounded amount as we would assume. The common prefixes therefore are

  • 1 Kilobyte (KB) = 1,024 Bytes
  • 1 MegaByte (MB) = 1,024 Kilobytes or 1,048,576 Bytes
  • 1 Gigabyte (GB) = 1,024 Megabytes or 1,073,741,824 Bytes

 

Because these numbers are not necessarily pretty to look at, manufacturers decide to rate most flash drive capacities on standard base 10 numbers so as per the above where 1 Mb = 1,000Kb or 1,000,000 Bytes, this means that for each 1Mb of data there is essentially 24Kb or 48,576 Bytes that is not accounted for. While this is barely noticeable on flash drives with low memory, those with much higher storage capacity see an increase in the discrepancy between the actual storage space and what is advertised.

 

What is the actual storage loss on a USB stick

The actual storage loss on a USB device is roughly 7% of the overall memory size, so for a 32GB device you can expect a loss of around 2GB. This, unfortunately, is a scalable loss as well, so the more memory size on a USB the more storage you will likely lose. The actual memory size of your USB flash drive is always marginally less than advertised regardless of the overall storage of the device.

Below is a chart which details the actual storage you get when using a USB stick as well as the overall loss you can expect to see.

 

Actual USB storage capacity

Customers should be aware that these are only approximations and in reality, the amount of storage space may be slightly more or less depending on the device you are using. It is important that people know about this issue in order to ensure that they are purchasing the correct sized USB to suit their needs. If the data you are wishing to load onto a memory stick, for example, is 1.9GB it would probably be worth going for a 4GB USB flash drive rather than a 2GB to ensure all the data can be copied across successfully with no problems.
 

What to do if the actual USB storage capacity is a lot lower than expected?

If storage capacity is lower than expected i.e. outside of a reasonable range of loss then there may be an issue with the USB itself. Firmware issues can mean the device will show less available storage or may corrupt the whole stick entirely and it should be replaced by the seller. Another widespread issue is the number of fake USBs on the market currently which are sold by third-party vendors. Many products are advertised as having a higher storage capacity than they actually do, in many circumstances a 4GB USB stick may turn out to have only a 1GB hard drive capacity.

Fake USBs - Infographic

It’s important that customers are made aware that these scams do exist, and can cause real issues for both individuals and businesses who rely on sharing information through USBs. People should always purchase their USB devices from a trusted sellers such as USB2U to ensure that goods received are genuine. Programs such as H2testw can help in determining the amount of actual storage on a USB stick and is an option to help determine whether or not the device is working as expected, as well as whether or not it is fake.

Back

Should You Pre-load Data on Promotional USB Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 6th October 2011 | Permalink

With a constant need to keep up with competitors, reacting to the ever changing digital world, patterns and trends in industries and the rise and fall of the economy, it’s important to keep one step ahead, and get your businesses’ messages out there efficiently and effectively.

Promotional USB Flash Drives

The Rise Of The Promotional USB Stick

Demand for “old fashioned” CD’s has reduced dramatically over the years, and an increase in printing costs for traditional sales brochures has encouraged companies to look at alternative options to distribute information on their products, prices and services. By nature, consumers are also a lot more visual, and react well to videos and animations that is something that traditional printed materials of course, can’t offer.
Customised USB sticks are increasingly the solution companies opt for because:
1. Printed and customised USB memory sticks are now available for less than £2 per unit (subject to minimum quantities and type)
2. You get on-going brand exposure with USB sticks because they tend to be used by the recipient to store and carry their own personal data (after all this is what they are designed for!)
3. Postage costs to send out a DM campaign with USB sticks are significantly cheaper than sending out expensive and heavy glossy brochures.
4. The cost of printing on a USB is generally less expensive that the cost of printing brochures.
5. It’s far easier to take a few hundred or even thousand USB sticks to a trade show than it is to transport the equivalent number of heavy brochures or leaflets
6. Lots of brochures handed out at trade shows and exhibitions end up in the bins outside the exhibition halls – USB sticks don’t as they’re small enough to be carried around!
7. Pre-loading your sales catalogues, price lists, press releases, media files etc. onto any USB stick you hand out is a must – After all you’re paying for the storage space on the sticks so you might as well use it.

USB Pre-loaded Data Is A Vital Commodity

Pre-loading data onto a memory stick purchased for your company makes good commercial sense. The savings made by pre-loading data onto USB sticks rather than printing the equivalent documents can fully offset the cost of the sticks. Plus, as mentioned, with the right memory available, short videos and animation can be loaded- something that consumers react well to.
The process of data loading is sometimes called duplication, pre-loading, copying or replication. It is relatively easy to do but it can be time consuming and you need to plan ahead to allow enough time to get the data organised. Ideally a USB stick supplier would do the data-load for you – most will offer a free data load up to a certain amount, typically 100MB.

Locking Data Onto USB Sticks

If you prefer you can “lock” the data that you pre-load onto the USB flash drive. This means that it cannot be deleted, bear in mind if you want to do this you would generally have to have your data ready early as it has to be loaded and “locked” during the manufacturing process. You also need to consider that if you load too much data onto the stick and therefore not leaving enough room for the user then they are highly unlikely to use it and your brand won’t get the on-going use and exposure you have paid for.
At USB2U we have in-house professional data-duplication equipment that enables us to pre-load data on behalf of our clients. For more information about pre-loading data onto memory sticks, feel free to email us at [email protected]

Back

Why do I need vector artwork for print?

Posted by USB2U on 1st March 2017 | Permalink

If you work in a creative industry like us and are dealing with logos and brands on a daily basis, you will be familiar with AI and EPS file formats for logos. But why do we ask for these files when it comes to printing onto our range of USBs as well as their packaging?

A Vector file type is either .eps, .ai, .pdf and .swf, and you’d need to set up your artwork as a vector graphic to start with before saving them in these formats – you couldn’t, for example, open a JPEG and re save it as a .swf.

So why don’t we use JPEGs? JPEGs are typically low resolution files and they’re mainly used for websites because the smaller file size helps load the pages quickly. They might look ok to the eye but once you zoom in or try to print from them you’re likely to end up with poor, blurred results.

Take a look at the images below and it’s easy to see why Vector artwork is preferred over a JPEG, the images are much sharper, crisper, and look loads better printed onto USBs!

 

The print quality difference between a logo in jpeg format and a logo in EPS vector format

Spot the difference – jpeg or vector artwork?

USB2U show the difference between vector and jpeg artwork engraved on wood

Crisp or fuzzy logo? We know which we prefer…

 

If you’re still a bit unsure then you can always ask your design team to supply you with vector artwork, or you could take a look at our artwork guidelines for a detailed overview of Vector and Raster graphics.

Back

Plan ahead – Chinese New Year falls early in 2017!

Posted by USB2U on 12th December 2016 | Permalink

Chinese New Year is fast approaching so the time to plan your USB and Power Bank orders for January and February 2017 is now!

The celebrations for 2017 fall earlier than recent years have. This year the celebrations will take place (and factories & production closed) between 21st January – 8th February 2017. Therefore the cut-off date for standard orders placed is as early as 11th January to avoid delays.

Can’t order in time? Don’t fear! With our UK stock and in house printing facilities we are able to serve you seamlessly throughout this period.

We guarantee reliable delivery of USBs, Power Banks and other tech products – just get in touch with our friendly team here at USB2U.

We hold a large amount of UK stock!

Contact us on:

[email protected]

0800 008 7079

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

 

 

Back

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.

image001-6

Back

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.

Back

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.

 

Back

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

Back

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

Back