Lexar JumpDrive Has Google Inside

How do you make a commodity product standout? In marketing they call it
“adding value,” but does adding free software to one of those keychain-ready
Flash drives fit the bill?

Lexar Media thinks so, and from a convenience factor it may have a point.
The Fremont, Calif.-based digital-media company announced that starting next
Month, consumers will be able to buy Lexar’s USB Flash drives with Google’s
Picasa, Google Toolbar and Google Desktop Search applications included.

Customers who purchase a Lexar JumpDrive simply have to plug the device into the USB port on their computers. They will then be prompted with
instructions to easily install the free applications. Once the user accepts
installation, the Google products automatically install on
the computer and are removed from the USB Flash drive.

“We’re excited to make it possible for people to easily search the
documents, photos, music and video they store on their Lexar JumpDrives and
computer hard drives, as well as to find information on the Internet,” said
Marissa Mayer, Google vice president of search products and user experience.

As these “thumb” drives are typically used to transport data files to
another PC or notebook, the option of being able to carry over and quickly
load applications that the other PC doesn’t have can be a time saver for those
that want or need to use them.

And if the other computer isn’t online,
getting those apps at the Google Web site isn’t even an option.

Even if consumers aren’t sure they will use the applications, it can’t hurt
to have the name of the world’s most popular search engine associated with
the product.

Lexar clearly thinks so. The new retail
packaging for the Lexar JumpDrive features the familiar multi-colored
Google logo prominently in the top right hand corner.

But Lexar isn’t the first thumb drive maker to offer pre-loaded
applications. Last month, Kingston, Memorex, SanDisk and Verbatim announced
they were incorporating software from U3 that adds applications to the handy
storage devices.

These U3-labeled smart drives include what the company
calls a “personal workspace,” which saves not only data and files but also
software programs, user preferences and the means for managing them.

U3 is acting as a kind of clearinghouse for collecting the applications that run
on thumb drives. The “Software Central”
section of its Web site features such
applications as the popular Skype Internet phone software and Firefox
browser.

Based in Redwood City, Calif., U3, was created with backing from
USB Flash drive companies M-Systems and SanDisk and licenses its platform to USB drive manufacturers.

The company said it’s working on other ways to extend the usefulness of
thumb drives. One area being explored is the capability to store user
preferences for Microsoft Office applications.

When the
drive is plugged into another computer with Office, user preferences, such
as document-formatting options, could be loaded without needing to be
reestablished by the user.

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