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SanDisk Flash Drives Enable Talk On Skype

SanDisk Corp. said Monday its begun shipping USB drives to retail stores preinstalled with Skype's VoIP software.

Plug earphones with microphone and the SanDisk drive into a PC. A phone keypad pops up on the PC's screen allowing consumers to make free PC-to-PC calls to Skype users in most major markets.

On the SanDisk drives, consumers will find a bundle of four applications that consumes about 40 MB of storage space on either the Cruzer Micro or the Titanium flash drives. Aside from Skype, the drives include a password-protected synchronization tool, antivirus software, and password manager application that can remember passwords for online trading and banking.

The pre-laded applications are based on U3, a technology SanDisk co-developed that provides application developers, such as eBay Inc.'s Skype, with a standard platform to create apps for portable devices.

Carlos Gonzalez, SanDisk's senior director of USB product marketing, believes adding the software could sway a consumer's decision on which drive to buy as they stare at a retail store shelf filled with USB drives from SanDisk, Lexar, PNY and others. "You have to give consumers more for their money, and this could create a nice differentiator for us," he said. "It remains to be seen whether people initially recognize the value."

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