One of the most frequently asked questions we get at Premium USB is why do the prices of USBs change so often? Anyone who’s bought their share of flash drives over the year will have noticed that their prices seem to fluctuate often. It can be frustrating, but rest assured that there is a very good reason for that. And also know this: It’s not our fault!
At Premium USB we do everything we can to keep our flash drives reasonably priced and accessible for any interested organizations to benefit from them. We’re able to price them competitively and fairly by assembling our flash drives in-house in the U.S. Unfortunately we’re not able to do EVERYTHING in-house. All flash drives require a valuable component that can only be acquired overseas, and it’s that one part that’s the key to solving the “why do USB prices change so much?” puzzle.
The most critical component inside USBs are their memory chips. Flash memory uses NAND chips, which are non-volatile. That means they don’t need to be backed up with a battery or capacitor to maintain their contents. Other types of memory like DRAM need power to preserve their storage capacities, which makes them less reliable compared to the loss-less NAND chips. These special chips are made in fabrication plants called “fabs”. Only a handful of fabs exist, producing the world’s supply of NAND chips in factories based in China, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea.
NAND chips don’t just power USB flash drives: They are a critical part of most modern electronics. Flash memory is used in desktop computers, mobile phones, MP3 players, laptops, medical devices, and many other essential pieces of technology. Demand for these chips is high, and only a few fabs are outfitted to produce them.
Crack open any economic textbook and you can see where we’re going with all this. What do you call an item that is highly in demand but subject to fluctuations in supply and changes in the marketplace? A commodity. NAND chips ARE commodities, just like gold, and are traded in a similar fashion. And as anyone who has dealt with commodities like oil, gold, tobacco, or copper can tell you, the value of a commodity is always shifting. This is the main reason why USB prices can vary so wildly over time: The source of their storage power is a hot commodity!
Think about how ubiquitous cell phones are in our culture. Each and every phone out uses flash memory. Every time Samsung, Sony, HTC, LG, or any other cell phone manufacturer produces a new line of phones, they have to order large runs of these commodities to get them ready for the marketplace. So while there may be “slow” months where the fabs aren’t beseiged with large memory orders, there are going to be “hot” times of the year when production will be backed up with demand for more chips.
This shifting demand makes a big difference on the value of NAND as a commodity. When the fabs are working in overdrive to meet demand (esp. during busy holiday seasons), the commodities’ value will skyrocket to reflect how hard it is to place orders for new chips. On slower months as the orders trickle in, prices will drop to reflect how much more available they are now.
When it comes to commodity value, supply goes hand in hand with demand. While large orders and busy seasons can drive up the price of flash memory, other unforeseen situations can arise to cause production problems. One of the biggest potential problems is the environment.
A case in point is Japan. In 2011 Japan was rocked by earthquakes and tsunamis. This massive environmental damage caused them to shut down production on many of their factories, including their NAND fabs. It wasn’t just a case of dealing with the health risks and physical hazards that came with the quake and tsunami: Some of the factories were heavily damaged! And because most other fabs are usually working at capacity to fill orders, when the Japanese fabs briefly went down other fabs weren’t ready or able to pick up the slack in the supply chain, causing NAND chips to becoming scarcer than they normally are.
Environmental damages can put a fab out of commission for a few days, sometimes even a week. On paper that may not seem like a lot of time, but for the marketplace those days of inactivity translate into considerable changes in the value of NANDs. And it’s not just Mother Nature that fabs need to be worried about- Malfunctioning equipment, power outages, factory accidents, strikes, and political unrest can also cause major delays in chip production.
Another factor in the changing values of flash memory is the fact that they are an overseas commodity. Because they have to be shipped to us, it adds another element of risk or potential for delay that can affect their value. Storms can prevent the shipments from being made and lead to grounded flights and container ships languishing in harbors. Shipments can get lost or even stolen en route, which can be particularly catastrophic if it happens to a large volume order for a company like Apple. They can also be affected by seasonal demand, especially during the holidays when orders for high-priced electronics skyrocket and the shipping industry is pushed to its limits to meet demand in time.
Happy New Year
Do you know when flash memory tends to be most expensive? February. It’s the month of the Chinese New Year, and during that time production in Chinese fabs shut down for 2 TO 3 WEEKS. Because of this holiday delay in production, demand for NAND chips sees a sharp increase. And as we’ve seen with other commodities: When demand increases, the price of the commodity is sure to follow suit.
In A Nutshell
The next time you notice a price change when you buy flash drives, remember that the memory chips inside them are like gold. Their value appreciates and depreciates depending on supply and demand. If you’re an organization looking to purchase a large supply of drives at the right time, keep these pointers in mind:
- Get them before the holidays.
- Place your orders before February, when production halts due to the Chinese New Year.
- Pay attention to big companies like Apple and Sony. If they’re about to release a new electronics product, demand for chips is about to spike. Get your USB orders in before the big boys get theirs in.
Got more questions about how memory chips work as a commodity? Get in touch with Premium USB for the answers you need.
The key to effective marketing is getting the right materials in front of the right people. And for a long time, the “right materials” meant the usual suspects: Business cards, direct mail, emails… While these are all valid and useful marketing tools in their own right, they’re also the tools that all your competitors are using. If you want to stand out, market yourself with something that’s a little out of left field: Spread the word about your business with custom USBs!
Custom USB drives have gained a lot of popularity among marketers over the last few
years. They aren’t as commonplace as business cards yet, which makes them stand out as a refreshing novelty when you hand them out to clients and customers. But the “shock of the new” isn’t the only reason why custom USBs are great for marketing: Here are five reasons why you should trust custom flash drives to take your business to the next level.
#1. They are cost-effective
One of the biggest misconceptions that surrounds custom USBs is that they are expensive to produce. Nothing could be further from the truth! You can purchase large quantities of customized flash drives at tremendous values. And the more drives you get, the more you save: At Premium USB, the price per individual drive decreases depending on the quantity of your order!
As an example: Let’s look at the Revolution, one of our most popular models. Buying 25 of them in bulk (with 128MB of data storage) will cost around $5.30 per unit; Buying 50 of the same model would cost $3.52 a drive! That’s less than .03 per MB! And the higher the order, the lower the costs per unit!
Consider as well just how MUCH you can store on a flash drive. A 1GB flash drive could store an average of 170 MP3 songs (at an average of 6MB per song), and 850 pictures (average of 1.2MB per picture)! And since documents tend to be smaller than other media files, that means you can pack a HUGE amount of Word docs and PDFs and Excel spreadsheets into a single flash drive!
So what does that mean for you, from a marketing perspective? Savings. Think of how expensive it can be to print out catalogs, introductory packets, and other documents. A 1,000 page document printed multiple times can rack up a large cost quickly. Take that same 1,000 pages and save them on a flash drive and you’ve just saved yourself a LOT of time and money.
#2. They are built to last
Flash drives are designed to be durable. Most USB models are made to be scratch resistant and shock resistant, able to withstand daily wear and tear at home or in your pocket. This stands in stark contrast to most other kinds of marketing materials, which tend to be made out of print. Business cards and fliers can get torn, crumpled up, water damaged, or fall apart with very little help. Flash drives , on the other hand, were made to hold up to the abuse that can come with frequent use. Check out this video we made where we test our flash drives and push them to their limits! See for yourself just how tough and reliable our USBs are.
#3. They are useful
An added benefit of using USBs as marketing tools is that they are useful data storage tools. When you give someone a card or send them an email, there’s often no value-add attached to it. It spreads awareness about your business, but it doesn’t give the consumer anything beyond that.
With a customized USB, not only are they finding out about your brand but they are also gaining an invaluable tool that can help make their lives easier. The fact that YOU gave them that tool could create feelings of reciprocity and goodwill that could pay off huge for your business. GIve people something of real value and they will be more likely to want to return the favor.
#4. They stick around
It’s easy to lose track of business cards or fliers. Emails are even worse: Even the most well-crafted and appealing of promo emails could end up buried beneath a mountain of new messages in an inbox. As the old saying goes: “Out of sight, out of mind.” What good is it in investing print marketing materials if they’re just going to get lost in the shuffle?
This is where custom USBs really start to shine! Because of their unique designs and easy portability, it’s the kind of marketing that people would be willing to carry around with them. There’s a better chance a potential client will be carrying your customized USB in their pocket than your business card. Because USBs are such useful devices, they’ll be a regular part of your customer’s lives in a way that no other type of marketing tool could hope to achieve. And every time they pull out their flash drive to move data or transfer their music, they’ll see your logo printed on that drive: A constant reminder that your brand exists. That’s why custom USBs are so invaluable: They give your brand a PRESENCE in other people’s lives. This type of repeated exposure to your brand is more likely to lead to future sales and interactions with your customers than a one time print or radio ad.
Another thing that custom USB drives got working in their favor is their perceived value. People are less likely to throw away a flash drive because they’ll think it’s more expensive and valuable than a business card.
#5. They can convey more information
There’s only so much information you can pack into a flier or card. Custom USBs have a major advantage over other marketing materials in that they can be preloaded with data! You can fill your custom USBs with data when you order them. That means you can preload them with PDFs, images, sound files, URLs, and any other additional information you want to pass on to your clients. At Premium USB, we offer up to 100MB of FREE data preloading, but you don’t have to stop there! Preload as much data as you want in your custom USB drives. Use this as an opportunity to tell people the story of your brand!.
An added benefit of preloading promotional USBs is that it gives your customers a feeling of agency. You’re not trying to push all this information on them: It’s there for them to read if they feel like it. That kind of soft sell can make a big difference: It shows respect for your customers, as well as a quiet faith in your business. You don’t need to tell them how great a company you are: They can find out for themselves by exploring all that preloaded data in their USB.
Would you like to find out more about how custom USBs can give your marketing a winning edge? Get in touch with us at Premium USB. We’d love to tell you more about what these little technological marvels can do for you!
When people think of industries that benefit most heavily from USB technology, visions of Silicon Valley are more likely to be dancing through their heads than their local courthouse. But here’s an interesting tidbit we’ve discovered over the years at Premium USB: USB technology has a big impact on our legal system!
One professional industry that has really embraced USB flash drives are court reporters. Court reporters have to generate and handle a tremendous amount of data: Courtroom transcriptions, depositions, realtime reports, video testimonies, litigation documents, and all sorts of other vitally important pieces of data! And not only do court reporters have to deal with storing all this data, they also have to make it mobile: Whether it’s sharing the data with clients or other attorneys or being archived for future reference, they have to be able to move all that data quickly and efficiently. That’s where our USBs come in.
With our high performance Hi-Speed USBs, court reporters can move anywhere from 16GB to 32GB worth of data at a time! Being able to store all that data on such a small, compact device also makes it easy to pass it along if that informations needs to be shared immediately.
Court reporters don’t just take advantage of our USBs, though: They’re also big fans of our innovative Flash Pac packaging! The Flash Pac is one of our most versatile USB packaging solutions. It comes in a durable case with an outer vinyl sleeve. Not only does it safely secure any style of flash drive inside it, it also comes with inner binder clips so you can insert printed materials inside the case! That’s one of the biggest reasons why court reporters love our Flash Pac: They’re able to include outlines, notes, and important physical documents inside the case that corresponds with the data packed on their drives!
Another advantage that the Flash Pac offers is that it is a very professional looking package. The legal world is a serious industry: The right presentation is CRUCIAL for success. Court reporters who want to make a strong impression with clients and advocates use our Flash Pacs because it adds an extra level of organization and polish to their work.
At Premium USB, we strive to create products that make everyone’s lives easier. In the 21st century, few things are as important for any business as proper data management and storage. Our USBs and USB packaging make handling data as easy as plugging a drive into a port. We’re proud of the fact that our Flash Pacs help legal professionals do their jobs.
If you’re part of an industry that’s benefitted from custom USBs and would like to share your flash drive success stories, drop us a line. We’d love to help spread the good word about our favorite tools!
Back in 2012, Apple retired their proprietary 30-pin connector and phased in a smaller, slimmer connector called Lightning. The connector made its debut with the iPhone 5 and is now standard on all Apple devices including iPhones, iPads, and iPods.
Beyond its shape, the Lightning connector is unique for being reversible – which means there is no “wrong way” to connect a charging cable. This gave Apple users an advantage over MicroUSB, the dominant connector used on Android-powered devices, which uses a directional connector.
While many of today’s Android-powered smartphones feature things like high-resolution screens, impressive cameras, and quad-core processors, many of them fall short when it comes to storage. Yes, even top of the line smartphones from Samsung, Motorola, HTC, and others will come with a paltry 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB of internal memory. For a power user, that simply isn’t enough!
Many of today’s HD games and apps for smartphones can take up to 1.5GB to install. Users with large collections of music, videos, and apps may also be feeling the pinch of limited storage space on their devices.