Have you noticed a rise in memory chip prices over the last 18 months? In early 2016, a hundred 8GB microSD memory cards cost about $200 USD. Today the price is nearly $600 USD. This is due to major semiconductor manufacturers stopping production in order to retool their factories for a new fabrication technology. Inventories of microSD cards are at all-time lows; it’s definitely a seller's market. No one is making firm forecasts, but it appears prices won’t come down until mid-2018 when production of new technology memory cards is expected to catch up with demand.

If you’ve been waiting to purchase cards, here are a few alternatives: OTG card readers: OTG (On-The-Go) USB accessories designed for cell phones started hitting the market a few years ago. They’re normal USB devices but with the type of USB connectors found on cell phones: micro-USB, USB-C and 8 pin iPhone. Instead of inserting a microSD card into their phone, the target audience plugs an OTG card reader into their phone and uploads content to their phone memory using a file manager app. The reader may be shared from one person to another. Many Android phones sense the reader and launch the app automatically. This method also works on iPhones, but when you download the app you get an ominous looking warning because you're using a third party device which is not officially approved. The "official" device costs $30-40 USD so you may want to ignore the warning.

Here are three examples of card readers. (Click link to see Amazon listing.) 4 in 1 microSD card reader (3rd gen) Price: $12-20 USD. These are the latest readers hence the higher price. This unit has micro-USB, USB-C, iPhone, and normal USB connectors. 2 in 1 card reader (2nd gen) Price: $4-6 USD. These units have only micro-USB and USB-C connectors. The one shown in the link also accepts full-sized SD cards. 2 in 1 card reader (1st gen) Price: $1-3 USD. These units have micro-USB and full-sized USB connectors. OTG USB adapters: This adapter will let you connect a normal USB flash drive to a cell phone with a micro-USB connector. Micro-USB adapter: Price: $6 USB.

This particular adapter has a narrow throat that makes it easier to plug into phones with protective cases. Micro-USB cable: Price: $2-6 USD. I personally prefer the cables. There's more flexibility, it puts less strain on the phone connector, and they’re usually cheaper. Wi-Fi: Biblebox a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, or file-server. Unfortunately the most popular router to create this device has been discontinued. A number of ministries are working to develop a new platform. Renew expects to release a comparable replacement in December. If you want more information about these options or need help procuring these devices, please contact me at duane_troyer@sil.org. As part of the VM Productions technology team, I specialize in distribution, particularly mobile technology.