Even SanDisk Is Surprised by MacBook Pro Add-On

macbook pro

"Everyone's surprised by it," admits Eric Bone, a retail VP at SanDisk, the leader in SD cards, when I reached him just after Apple's keynote address wrapped up. Bone did a double take--along with the rest of us--when Apple added an SD card slot to its refreshed line of MacBook Pro laptops today. Apple tends to forgo card slots of any sort, much less one based on a format that it doesn't control.

Why now? "The unibody form factor is extremely thin and so this makes sense in the space they had available." He's also thrilled. "Previously users had to take an extra step and get a reader," he says. "SD cards are now in pretty much every kind of portable hardware."

macbook sdcard slot

This is huge news for SanDisk, which has been laboring mightily to communicate that SD cards are for more than just moving images off your camera to your PC. "For this to be in Apple's mainstream notebooks, it sends the message that SD is not just for imaging but for any kind of content transfer. We're trying to communicate that these cards go in multiple places." SanDisk doesn't plan to release any new cards explicitly targeting MacBook Pro users, as it has for netbook owners where limited storage is more of an issue than with the new 15" model and its 250GB hard drive, let's say.

The next big milestone for SanDisk and SD will be if the iPod and iPhone ever add card slots, something that did not happen today (and is unlikely in the near future). When I met with Bone in late May, he expressed frustration that there are "one billion handsets, 75% to 80% of them have slots, but only 15% to 20% of mobile phones users end up using them."

In the meantime, though, "We can't wait to get our hands on one," Bone says. "We want to see what the implementation will look like in the OS, and we want to see the transfer rates." Count us among the many who also want to get our hands on a new MacBook Pro, too, but we have to admit: The card-slot transfer rate won't be the first feature we ogle.

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2 Comments

  • Bradley Dichter

    There will be SDXC cards with 104 MB per second bus interface speeds, and the first should be about half that, but the SDXC standard calls for the file system to be exFAT which Apple will not be supporting. Still class 10 SDHC cards at 22 MB/sec (such as recently launched by Panasonic) which are targeted at HD tapeless camcorders will be supported at full speed and then some.

  • Bradley Dichter

    From Apple: What is the maximum speed that my computer can use when reading and writing to an SD card in the SD card slot?

    Your Macintosh has a maximum speed of 240 Mbit/s for SD media using the SD card slot. This exceeds the transfer rate of most SD media. (Class 2 media has a maximum transfer rate of 4 Mbit/s; Class 4 media has a maximum transfer rate of 4.8 Mbit/s; and Class 6 media has a maximum transfer rate of 45 Mbit/s.) Check the packaging that came with your SD media to determine the maximum transfer rate used by that media.