Back in 2013, when Fujifilm got out of the motion picture film game, it left Kodak as the sole player. That was understandable at the time because the digital revolution was making film profits less lucrative for more than one company. But could the digital revolution cause something similar to happen with media card makers? Well, it looks like the answer is yes, because Micron / Lexar is getting out of the SD card business. Is there a seed change underway?
“Micron Technology today announced that it is discontinuing its Lexar retail removable media storage business. The decision was made as part of the company’s ongoing efforts to focus on its increasing opportunities in higher value markets and channels.” – Jay Hawkins consumer products group vice president, Micron Blog
The news shocked the web yesterday, as Lexar’s parent company Micron announced it was shuttering the retail removable media storage division, and would explore options for spinning off its brand and assets through sale. The Lexar portfolio includes various format memory cards, USB flash drives, readers, storage drives, and other optical media for retail and OEM customers.
The reason given is pretty clear, and has to do with profit margins (similar to what happened with digital vs. film). Lexar simply wants to focus on opportunities that bring more bang for the buck, and with margins getting lower on media cards as the prices go down, it’s really not that surprising that they would want to get out of a very competitive market that includes heavy hitters like SanDisk, Transcend, Kingston, Sony and others.
Another interesting development is with Lexar exiting the market, it means that Nikon has to rely on Sony as the only company making their XQD media cards for the Nikon D5 and D500 DSLRs, per Nikon Rumors. Though there are still existing supplies of Lexar models at B&H, Adorama, and Amazon, you can bet that as supplies dwindle, the cost of the proprietary media is going to climb.
Fortunately, the D5 and D500 can take SD cards, as well, but the result having one company making their XQD media could spell doom for the format, and is another black mark on a company that has been struggling to keep their DSLR lines afloat for the last year. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see an upcoming D6 move to compact flash or maybe even CFast cards, which could be a benefit to the model moving forward.
Micron has assured customers that while Lexar’s brand may be going away, or could be sold to an interested third party, there is some good news “The company will continue to provide support to existing customers through this transition period,” Consumer products VP Jay Hawkins wrote. “Customers should contact their Lexar sales representative to discuss specific requirements.”
Hawkins also went on to say that this adjustment is meant to ensure that Micron is “well-positioned” for the future. Which makes me wonder if they are looking over the horizon to 8K and above for video, and that the media cards they have been making simply won’t be able to support such data sizes and transfer rates. Maybe they’re coming up with something new? But if that’s the case, why would they be looking to spin off the Lexar brand.
No, I’m thinking this is a more permanent move to focus on other things.