One popular argument that Droid smartphone owners use to justify purchasing it against another phone is that it has the potential for expandable memory. A device with expandable memory might have very little storage but has space for an SD card to upgrade the capacity by 16, 32 or 64 GB depending on the size of the SD card.
Some businesses, however, have not adopted this policy. Apple’s mobile computing devices like the iPhone and iPad do not have expandable memory, but models are available with a certain amount of storage. The iPad with Retina, for example, costs $499 for the 16 GB model. The 32 GB model is $599, 64 GB costs $699 and 128 GB is $799. These models cannot be upgraded: in other words, the only way to get 32 GB if you purchased a 16 GB model would be to do a return, or to sell the original and then purchase the larger option.
There is a third option for device storage that combines the two ideas. The Sony PlayStation Vita, for example, is a mobile gaming platform through which a player can connect to the internet. They can then pay for and download games to play instantly on the Vita, assuming there is room to download it. The device comes with a small amount of storage capacity but can be expanded with proprietary SD cards made by Sony. These SD cards are owned and manufactured by Sony and are the only SD cards supported by the Vita.
That means that if any gamer wishes to expand the memory of their Vita, they must pay Sony for that right by purchasing their proprietary SD card. They can charge substantially more for these cards than others available in the mass market. On Amazon.com, a 16 GB SD card costs around $10. The Sony version of the same SD card costs upwards of $50.
The ability to purchase a product for slightly cheaper and then later pay to upgrade the amount of storage allows the customer more freedom in their product. Purchasing a product with permanent storage may cause them to run out of space and then become dissatisfied with the device.
The best situation for a business is obviously that which would make them more money, and would result in the customer paying more and probably ending up with fewer choices.The best situation for the buyer would be the cheapest one that allows them the most freedom. Where is the happy medium? It’s hard to say.
The midway point would probably end up being a cheaper proprietary kind of expandable storage that still allows for consumer freedom but gives companies the revenue from storage upgrades. The answer may not be so simple, however, simply due to the fact of these businesses catering to varied groups of people. Someone with more money but less time (or potentially less knowledge of, say, how to swap SD cards) might prefer to pay for a device with permanent storage. Someone with less money but more knowledge of the products might prefer to have the ability to upgrade their storage on their own.
Therefore Apple and Droid users on either side of this spectrum may not have any complaints or be at risk of switching any time soon. In this case, it may be Sony that will end up needing to change the way it handles expandable memory in order to fit into these pre-established structures (permanent memory or open-market expandable memory).