This CNET piece reports that SanDisk and Yahoo are partnering, with the search giant providing music services to the storage vendor's Sansa Connect. The device -- a Wi-Fi-equipped MP3 player with 4 Gigabytes of memory -- is available at Circuit City stores beginning today.
There are two issues of which IT departments and company management in general should be aware, and neither is completely new. As time goes by, however, these issues -- one positive and one negative -- continually reappear and grow more deeply ingrained in the world of business communications.
The first is that these devices have dual usages that straddle the business/consumer line. Though they are marketed to consumers, it is clear that Zune, iPod and other devices potentially become as popular with busy executives as they now are with teens. The addition of Wi-Fi connectivity will extend these business uses and make them more varied and creative. The other issue is security. Four gigabytes is a tremendous amount of storage. But that's not all: Wi-Fi connectivity significantly ups the ante. In one scenario, an insider can download critical data from a networked computer and transmit via Wi-Fi to an accomplice outside the building. There certainly are more creative ways to use the technology to steal data. There also are signs that decision-makers aren't paying enough attention.
The bottom line is that these are increasingly powerful devices, and a growing number of companies are entering the market. They all are trying to take a piece of Apple's iPod market segment. The sector is very energetic, and will become more so as the June launch of the iPhone nears. That's something business should welcome -- and fear.