July 20, 2022


Sony and Minolta SLR Weblog

Sony A100 dSLR: Time to kill the Memory Stick myth

Some myths never die. You know what I mean: Wearing hats causes baldness. The owners of the Titanic claimed it was “unsinkable.” Humphrey Bogart spoke the line “Play it again, Sam” in Casablanca. George Washington had wooden teeth. The Alpha A100 dSLR relies on Sony Memory Sticks for image storage.

The last myth I mentioned has been prevalent for as long as the A100 has been on the market — and shows no sign of dying out any time soon.

For the record: The Sony Alpha dSLR uses a standard Compact Flash memory slot for removable storage. It accepts Compact Flash type I, Compact Flash type II and various flavors of the CF size Microdrives. All Sony A100s produced have a Compact Flash slot and Compact Flash is the only native memory format the camera offers.

I’m sure you already know this — after all, Alphatracks viewers actually CAN read and most actually have experience using Minolta or Sony dSLRs. Sadly, a number of bloggers and so-called journalists apparently can’t read well enough to understand the A100 spec sheet. And they sure have never used an A100. How else can you explain the number of otherwise knowledgeable writers who continue to promote the myth that Sony failed to understand the dSLR market and crippled the A100 by limiting it’s storage to Memory Sticks.

I can forgive individual photographers for persisting in this misunderstanding — after all, Sony developed the Memory Stick and it has been Sony’s memory card of choice for their extensive line of non-SLR digital cameras. But journalists need to hold themselves to a higher standard. Using the internet, a writer could determine that the A100 uses Compact Flash in only a few clicks. But why bother to check the facts? These gadget junkies know that the A100 is a Memory Stick camera – why bother to make sure your information is correct?

Several months ago a well known electronic gadget magazine published a review of 10mp dSLRs. The editor insinuated the A100 was limited by it’s reliance on Memory Sticks. Obviously the “reviewer” never used the camera.

You might have thought that since the Alpha 100 has been on the market for a full year now, that this kind of nonsense would have been laid to rest. Sadly, this is not the case.

I refer you to a blog called Eddielogic. It isn’t a photography related site, the emphasis is apparently on business strategy. It looks very professional and it would appear the authors know what they are talking about. Looks, of course, can be deceiving.

In a blog post dated June 6th, 2007, one of the authors, Oliver Recklies, expresses concern about Sony’s future in the dSLR market. I disagree with a number of points Mr. Recklies makes, but he is entitled to his opinion. But I almost fell out of chair when I read the following lines (talking about the design and marketing of the A100);

“…basic requirements within this market segment have not been considered enough. Customer lock-in options have not been used; the current memory stick preference is more a lock-out feature…”

Yes, you read it right. Mr. Recklies is disappointed with Sony’s lack of foresight by forcing Memory Sticks on owners of it’s first generation Alpha model. Ironically he posted this on the first year anniversary of the A100’s announcement by Sony, That means he had a entire year to determine that the A100 uses CF memory. How’s that for strategy?

Mr. Recklies goes on to warn Sony of dire consequences unless it abandons the Memory Stick and provides a CF slot in it’s future dSLRs:

“The hardware integration of CF card as memory medium is more a basic requirement. As we know from management and marketing research it is essential to fulfil [sic] those basic requirements. In the case that they are not in place, they will cause dissatisfaction. The CF option is more a “has to be there” than anything else.”

Ah, maybe Mr Recklies should cut back a little on the management and marketing research and do a little PRODUCT research before posting nonsense like this. It is rather embarrassing to recommend that a company implement a strategy only to find out the company has anticipated your suggestion by over a year.

Sigh. I’m sure the Eddielogic people know more about strategic things than I do. Yet I know that business schools teach that the first art of business is to know your product and your competitors.

Sadly, Mr. Recklies feels qualified to provide unsolicited advise to Sony on strategy — even though it appears he is woefully ignorant of Sony’s product. That doesn’t seem very strategic to me.

Unfortunately, Mr. Recklies is not alone. I have run across many others who are firmly convinced that the A100 uses Memory Sticks. Maybe it’s the fact that Sony choose to include a Memory Stick adapter in the box with the A100.

This is actually a good move on Sony’s part. After selling tons of P&S cameras with Memory Sticks, Sony didn’t want to offend loyal customers by forcing them to abandon their collection of MS memory if they chose to upgrade to Sony’s SLR. So Sony included an adapter that allows you to use Memory Sticks with the A100, You can buy similar adapters that will allow you to use Secure Digital and other memory other than Compact Flash in CF camera slots. The adapter consists of a hollow CF size card that you plug a Memory Stick into. You then plug the adapter into the A100’s CF slot. It’s mainly for those who have a collection of MS memory and don’t want to have to buy new CF cards for their camera. I doubt even Sony expects users to actually buy MS cards to use in the Alpha. Somewhere writers like Mr. Recklies spotted that Memory Stick adapter verbiage and jumped to the conclusion that that Sony failed to offer a CF slot in their new SLR.

After just lambasting Mr. Recklies and the Eddielogic blog for trying to give Sony unsolicited advice, I will now give Sony an unasked-for suggestion of my own. Now might be a very good time for a “Buy a Sony A100 and get a free Sony brand Compact Flash card” promotion.

(Note to Mr. Recklies: More than a month before your post Sony announced their line up of Compact Flash Cards. They will still sell Memory Sticks, but they have now expanded to producing CF media. Just thought you might like to know.)

This type of promotion could achieve several goals:

It should move more A100s. People always like to get something for free, and it could tip the scales when someone is deciding which brand of dSLR to purchase. With most serious Alpha users waiting to see the specs the future Sony dSLRs, I’m sure that the sales for the current A100 may be a little flat. This could really help.

It will help spread the word that Sony makes Compact Flash cards. Sure most serious photographers already know this, but I’m sure a lot of average consumers aren’t aware of the new Sony branded CF cards. This would be a great way to foster that awareness.

Most importantly, it might just make certain bloggers and journalists wake up to the fact that the A100 uses Compact Flash memory. Imagine Mr. Recklies talking things over with Eddie — who appears to be a bird. (I could make all manner of bird brain jokes here, but I won’t. Eddie looks like a very nice bird.)

“Look here Eddie. Sony is giving away a CF card if you buy one of their A100 dSLRS. Isn’t that the silliest thing you ever heard of? You wouldn’t be able to use that card in their camera. Hey! It says here that you can actually use a CF card in the A100. Who would have thought?”

Who indeed.

The complete Eddielogic rant can be found at the EddieLogic blog. I wouldn’t worry too much about Oliver’s gloom and doom predictions. If he can’t get the basic memory card stuff right, I don’t think the rest of this post carries much weight.