This article was written by Paul Norbury, CEO, Cardwave Services LTD.
Avoid the counterfeit SD Card trap
Like many people in our industry, I immerse myself in the trade journals, trying to keep up-to-date with what is going on in the industry and which stories are grabbing the headlines. There are always interesting stories about new products and opinions, but one report I have recently read stood out and hit a familiar nerve with me – fake SD cards.
The recent Counterfeit Report examined the extent of fake SD cards that were being sold by dishonest sellers who use online market places (including eBay, Amazon, and Alibaba) to sell high capacity cards at huge discounts. This is not a new problem, but it is getting progressively worse and one leading manufacturer is suggesting that a third of all SD cards available for sale on the internet are fake. That is an extraordinary figure to comprehend, and whether it is true or not, no-one can question that it is a massive problem that needs action.
Fake SD cards ruin our industry and it is a problem that we all need to stand up to. I have a lot of sympathy with the companies who have had their branding violated, but I am not necessarily referring to the commercial impact and lost revenues, instead I am more concerned that their efforts to produce a quality product is being abused. Millions of dollars each year is being invested in R&D and in manufacturing processes that improve the quality, performance and lower the cost of these products. As consumers, we collectively benefit from this and should therefore do our bit to ensure we are only purchasing genuine products. The reality is different though, and end users who unknowingly buy fake cards are being unnecessarily exposed to a risk that the card they purchased will not perform as advertised or be as reliable as the genuine product. Since SD cards are used by millions of people, it is inevitable that someone somewhere will have a story of losing those special photographs or not being able to access the video they took of a special occasion. Some people may focus just on buying a card for the lowest possible price and they may not even understand that fake cards exist, but regrettably some people find out the hard way.
During my time on the board of the SD Association, we took a harsh view towards fake SD cards and used our resources when possible to raise the issue and give guidance to the industry. Members were frequently reminded about the branding guidelines (i.e. the correct use of the SDA’s pictographs, packaging guidelines etc.) and we also knew about the activities that SD-3C LLC were taking to protect their IP. SD-3C is the organisation that owns and licenses the SD logo (and IP related to SD technology), so they have a vested interest in routing out fake cards.
I am no longer a board director or a serving officer with the SD Association but my company is still actively involved in the SD card industry and we are closely associated with most of the leading manufacturers. Our customers are all high-profile brands and they do not always understand the complexities of this industry, but they certainly understand the risk that fake SD cards would have on their business. Cardwave is not unique in what we do, but we never source our product from a supplier who cannot prove the origin of the product. This means that we are mainly working direct with the original manufacturer and share a common belief in offering quality products to quality customers. We are very proud of our services and the support we give to our customers, and despite the ongoing problems that fake cards have in our industry, we will remain vigilant and protective of the brands we support.