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Posted on July 28th, 2012, by

Product Profile
Product Name
Kingston 8GB Data Traveler USB 2.0 flash drive
Product Category
Computer memory products
Scale and scope of product category

In December 2003 the main world producers of USB flash drives (also called ďkeydrivesĒĚ) founded ĒėUSB Flash Drive Alliance’. This alliance incorporated such companies as Samsung, Lexar Media, Kingston Technology and some others. In 2003 Alliance reported that more then 50 millions USB flash drives was sold¬† only in the USA. Next five years 2 – 2.5 billions of flash drives were produced and sold world-wide. All manufactures tried to increase the storage space and work speed of flash drives, but besides they invented different additional features and unusual design. 2008 was the first year of sales shortening for USB flash drives in the world. There were two main reasons for this: global financial crisis and new market trends.

Product History

Flash-memory was invented in 1984 by Dr. Fujio Masuoka working for Japan company Toshiba. His colleague and friend Mr. Shoji Ariizumi gave the name ďflashĒĚ to this invention, because the erasure process of the memory contents reminded him of the flash of a camera. Just before the new millennium beginning Israeli engineer, inventor and businessman Dov Moran got an idea to combine flash memory card with useful universal serial bus, also known as USB¬† interface, and to put it into small plastic box. Initially this device was called ďDiskOnKeyĒĚ and marketed by IBM Corporation in the USA. At the same time one more company began selling almost similar devices – Singaporean company Trek Technology. From this time started the boom of USB flash drives production. The company of Dov Moran was finally bought by SanDisk and now this company is the world leader in this market segment. Kingston Technology usually takes the second place, but it can vary depending on the annual sales.

Retail Price
Today retail price for Kingston 8GB Data Traveler USB 2.0 flash drive is $20-$25, but when I bought it in 2007 its price was $85.

Target User
As a outer storage of personal information with universal interface flash drive is appropriate for every PC-user.

Manufacturer
Name:
Kingston Technology Corporation
History
John Tu (originally from Shanghai) and David Sun (originally from Taiwan) started their common business in the USA at 1982. Those days they manufactured the enhancement products for DEC systems in Tu’s garage. In 1986 they sold their company for $6 mln, but next year businessmen lost almost all because of the stock market crash. Trying to recoup their losses Tu and Sun researched the computer memory market and found Kingston Technology Corporation. The company produced memory chips for PC. New operating system Windows 95 needed more working memory and that was the great luck of Kingston. Soon Tu and Sun appeared at the pages of Forbes, and their company was considered as new realization of American dream. Since then Kingston founded daughter companies and new producing lines in different countries. In December 2003 Kingston become the member of ĒėUSB Flash Drive Alliance’. In 2007 the revenues of Kingston reached $4.5 B. Kingston Technologies global headquarters is located in Fountain Valley, California. It has manufacturing and logistics facilities in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Taiwan, and China. Kingston emploeys more than 4,000 people worldwide.

Annual sales

Kingston reports revenues of $4.0B for 2008, the second-largest in company history. Volume increased 41% in memory units shipped from 2007.

Labels, Awards or Ratings

Kingston Technology was awarded best Computer Storage product for its DataTraveler Secure and DataTraveler Secure – Privacy Edition USB Flash drives at AeA’s 14th Annual High-Tech Innovation Awards.

Other products they manufacture

Kingston Technology manufactures system specific memory, branded memory, flash memory, valueram memory and hyperx memory.

Locations where it is distributed/sold
Worldwide.

Product Benefits (as advertised by manufacturer))

ďKingston Technology’s DataTraveler 2.0 USB Flash drives put portable Flash memory in everyone’s hands. Reliable and easy to use, DataTraveler is the choice of corporations and consumers alike for securely storing, carrying and transferring dataĒĚ. (KT,2009)

Product images

Product itself

 

Photo of product in use

 

ďInternals of a typical USB flash drive

 

1     USB connector
2     USB mass storage controller device
3     Test points
4     Flash memory chip
5     Crystal oscillator
6     LED
7     Write-protect switch
8¬†¬†¬†¬† Unpopulated space for second flash memory chip”

(Wiki, 2009)
Main materials:
1) printed board (textolite, solder paste)
2) integrated circuits (consisting mainly of semiconductor devices)
3) A-type USB  connector (metal)
4) casing (plastic)
My Story
How did you acquire the product?
I bought it from babyrus.
How long have you owned it?
2.5 years.
When was it produced?
2006.
What do you love about it?
Even today 8 Gb is a big data storage space. In 2007 when I bought this flash drive it was a huge one. I have never had troubles using this device; I have never lost my data. And I still have 2.5 years of warranty.
What are its benefits from your perspective?
It is hard to find the benefits of usb flash drives that were not mentioned in advertising. It is really strong, small and easy to carry. I really appreciate the opportunity to move information from one computer to another, from notebook to PC for example, when these computers have no connection. And it is very useful to carry such device everywhere, because you never know when you find useful or interesting information.  Besides, this is a rather good present.
What personal needs does it satisfy?
Social and intellectual.
What are its limitations? What would you change?
For its purposes this device is almost perfect. But next time I will buy flash drive without a cap or with the attached cap.

Market Research

Identify at least 2 competing products on the market. How do they compare to your product?
Optical media (writable and rewritable CD and DVD) vs flash drive

Advantages:

1) CD and DVD disks are the cheapest methods of mass data storage.
2) The majority of modern PCs has  CD/DVD drives.

Disadvantages:
1) Writable disc can be used for recording only once. Rewritable disk can be recorded and re-recorded up 1to 1,000 cycles (compare with 500,000 or more erase/write cycles of flash drives).
2) They are slower than flash-based devices.

3) Standard optical disc is larger then standard flash drive

4) It is very hard to make small changes in data recorded on optical disk.

External hard disk Advantages:

1) Cost per gygabyte is less that flash drives.
2) Larger capacities.
3) Sometimes external hard disks have more fast interfaces.
Disadvantages:
1) Standard hard drive is larger and heavier than standard flash drive.
2) More susceptible to damage by short fall or strong magnetic fields.
3) External hard disks have limitations on use at high altitude.

Flash memory cards

This cards uses the same technology and  are used by many consumer devices. Its main disadvantage is the impossibility to put the card into desktop directly. Some companies produces universal card-readers with USB interface, but as usual total cost of memory card and card-reader is higher then the cost of USB flash drive of comparable capacity. Customer have to keep in mind, however, that many consumer devices (for example, portable music players, digital cameras ) can not be connected with USB flash drives directly, meanwhile mini-readers use USB interface and are appropriate for most computers.

Environmental Impacts
Process Tree
Printed board. Materials : textolite, sober paste. Method: hot pressing.

Cotton production is usually bad for environment. More then 25% of worlds insecticides and 10% of pesticides are used by cotton producers. These harmful chemicals severely degrade soil quality. At the factory stage cotton processing needs a number of toxins too.

Hot pressing method needs a lot of energy for heating, but sometimes this is the only way to get thermosetting materials.

Solder paste for printed plates consists of the powdered metals. The most popular metals for solder paste are tin and lead because of the low  fusion temperature. However, our days main producers migrate to nead-free solder paste.

Lead is one of the harmful elements, and most advanced technologies try to avoid using lead.

Integrated circuits. Materials: semiconductors.

Silica is the main raw material for semiconductors. Its production environmental impact is insignificant. The market of semiconductors is growing because of the information technologies widening, and new methods of semiconductors production quickly appear. Most of modern technologies aims to decrease the ecological impact: water re-using and recycling practices help to save fresh water and refuse solid wastes level.
Casing. Material: plastic.

Traditional plastic our days is the conversion product of different hydrocarbonsincluding oil products. The quality of such plastic is good, and most of flash drives producers use it. But traditional plastic negatively impacts on environment. Oil is nonrenewable resource, its production and processing poisons and and kills everything living around. Recycling of plactic products is not ecological progress too, when plastic burns, it poisons theatmosphere. USB connector. Material: metal.

Metal production is widespread all over the world. In the mining industry environmental aspects are very important, as all mining and metallurgical activities influence the environment to a substantial extent. Hundreds of organization from different countries do their best to solve this problem, and we can see the marked improvement already.

Manufacturing process.

As many other processes in this industry, manufacturing of flash drives is highly automatised. Sure, producers have to use modern equipment, and this equipment production has its own ecological impact, but the unit assembly is almost harmless.

Distribution.

For flash drive distribution manufacturers use packages made from pasteboard and plastic. Usually production and utilization of these materials are highly non-ecological. The ravaging of forests by the pulp and paper industry is one of the most critical issues confronting environmentalists today. The production of 1 ton of paper consumes the same amount of energy as one ton of steel.

Key Impacts
As far as we can see, the main impacts are:
Soil degradation,
Toxic air pollution,
Water pollution,
Nature reserve depletion
This is what I can propose to reduce negative ecological impact:
1) to use new biotechnology instead of pesticides. In the United States insecticide use has been drastically reduced, thanks to biotechnology, the success of the boll weevil program and the extensive use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices in cotton production.
2) to change details from non-organic plastic to organic plastic details made of renewable raw material.
3) use the package from recycled materials.
4) use only the lead-free solder paste.
5) use non-phenol binder for printed plates.

And I can propose fast and cost-saving idea to reduce the packing materials usage. Manufacturers can pack two or more flash drives in one package. These flash drive packages can be used by corporative customers.

My re-engineered product can be advertised as an ideal solution for environmentalists, for people who cares about nature. We also can transfer part of our trade revenue to Greenpeace or other ecological organizations.

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