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USB Blog

15 Apr 2013

Why have USB Flash Drive Prices been Rising?

Posted by alan on 15/04 | 0 comments
Why have USB Flash Drive Prices been Rising?

We live in a world of cheap flash memory - but it's still too high and being forced back up. While we're expecting memory sticks for pocket money prices, that's not happening at the moment and that's the fault of market forces out of our control.

Thirty years ago, we once paid out £400 for 32KB of added solid-state memory for our personal computer. Translated into modern costings, that works out as £12.5 million per Gigabyte, although back then, nobody even considered the need for so much storage. A desk top computer running a throbbing 64KB of RAM was all we'd ever want, thank you very much. Then came the personal computer, along with giant strides in technology that included the development of flash memory as a virtually disposable consumer product.

These days at trade fairs, delegates tell us they expect giveaway memory sticks of up to 4GB capacity, even though our 1983 self is screaming out that it's 50 million pounds worth of technology in their beautifully constructed promotional welcome pack. The price of memory has plummeted in the last thirty years, and on a relative scale, the current price fluctuations are small beer. That's not much of a consolation when you see the cost of your branded USB memory sticks with USB Trader higher than last time. We hate having to increase our prices, but here's what's happening: The USB memory stick market is dominated by Samsung, who supply nearly half of these products. Unfortunately for the South Korean company (and the rest of us), memory sticks don't make as much as a profit as - say - the Samsung Galaxy S IV smartphone, and that's where they're devoting their energies. It appears that instead of servicing the low-end memory stick market, they're instead churning out more sophisticated flash memory for smartphones. Other manufacturers have followed their lead, and the supply of memory sticks looks like it's dwindling fast. As any economist will tell you, once supply begins to dry up, the prices rise, and that's exactly what we're seeing here.

Demand for the very products they're not making any more is as high as ever, so sadly the retail price looks to rise. But it would be wrong to blame Samsung entirely, as there are other factors at play here. You've got the current instability in South-East Asia as North Korea rattles its cage; not to mention the pound's current weakness against the dollar means that it's bad news for the consumer in the UK. For once, it's not an example of "Rip-off Britain" - we're doing our very best to supply you with the cheapest USB sticks possible, but we're up against global market forces that are making our mission very difficult indeed. Stick with us. While the price bounces around, we'll do our very best to bring you the best USB flash drive prices on the market.

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