M-Systems and SanDisk today announced the creation of the U3 platform, a new hardware and software platform that will expand the USB flash drive market beyond storage. The goal of U3(TM) LLC, based in Redwood City, Calif., is to transform the USB flash drive market from simple storage devices into exciting new consumer products that people can use to carry, store and launch their own applications and data on any PC wherever they go. The U3 platform includes a hardware specification as well as Application Program Interfaces (APIs) for software developers to access the unique mobility and security features available on these devices. U3 drives will contain a Launch Pad desktop interface to simplify viewing, launching, downloading and managing all U3-compliant applications stored on the devices. The first U3-compliant devices are expected to ship by this summer.

M-Systems and SanDisk  today announced the creation of the U3 platform,
a new hardware and software platform that will expand the USB flash drive market
beyond storage. The goal of U3(TM) LLC, based in Redwood City, Calif., is to
transform the USB flash drive market from simple storage devices into exciting
new consumer products that people can use to carry, store and launch their own
applications and data on any PC wherever they go. Announced at the Consumer
Electronics Show 2005, U3 will create an expanded market of innovative
applications for one of the fastest-growing consumer electronics devices in
history. Analysts predict that more than 70 million USB drives will sell in
2005. M-Systems and SanDisk are innovators and leaders of the USB flash drive
market, and will provide substantial related IP and technical expertise to the
U3 platform.

Consumers have quickly embraced USB flash drive technology for its ability to
transport large amounts of data from one PC to another. Because of its success,
new vendor-specific solutions have emerged in an attempt to use USB flash drives
for more than storage. However, these efforts have been hampered by a lack of
the standardization required to ensure multi-vendor interoperability and
compatibility. There are no standards today that enable an independent software
developer to create applications that are portable and secure for all USB flash
drives. However, consumers who buy U3-compliant USB Flash drives will have the
ability to take U3-compliant applications with them wherever they go.

The U3 platform includes a hardware specification as well as Application Program
Interfaces (APIs) for software developers to access the unique mobility and
security features available on these devices. U3 drives will contain a Launch
Pad desktop interface to simplify viewing, launching, downloading and managing
all U3-compliant applications stored on the devices.

U3’s suite of software development tools will make it possible for software
applications to store and retrieve data on a U3 device, enhance security by
accessing the U3 platform standard features, and mobilize applications so they
can be carried and launched on any computer. With the number of portable
applications expected to be available, USB flash drive vendors may bundle
applications that will appeal to specific market segments, such as healthcare
applications, gaming, business productivity and more.

"U3 creates a new, open, standard platform that will take USB flash drives from
the simple storage devices they are today to portable devices that are empowered
by rich applications, harnessing the creative energy of a multitude of
independent developers," said Eli Harari, SanDisk’s president and chief
executive officer. "This platform will dramatically increase the value of USB
drives to consumers and developers alike. SanDisk and M-Systems intend to
strongly support and promote the U3 platform creating what we hope will become
the U3 Economy."

Building a community of software developers will be a top priority for U3. U3’s
goal is to attract software developers by providing access to a large and
growing base of U3-enabled devices. U3 currently plans to provide developers
ongoing support including development tools, business and technical support and
a Web-based distribution channel where millions of users will be able to easily
purchase and download U3-compatible applications.

"U3 will unite the industry around best-of-breed technology to increase overall
value to the consumer and open a whole new world of opportunities for software
developers," said Dov Moran, president and chief executive officer of M-Systems.
"U3 plans to build a robust infrastructure for consumers, developers and
manufacturers of USB flash drives. The vision of U3 is to expand the USB Flash
Drive from its current role as a simple, convenient storage device into a new
consumer product that people can use to carry, store and launch their own
applications on any PC."

U3 plans to offer software developers an organization dedicated to developing
and maintaining the U3 specifications, plus software development kits and other
tools to speed time to market, minimize investment, and provide a robust and
standard platform.

"Software applications for flash drives have been largely developed for
proprietary devices with limited market opportunity," said Joe Unsworth analyst
at Gartner Inc. "Without a standard, developers were lacking key features to
enable mobility and robust security, lacking multi-vendor interoperability, and
lacking open, standards-based development tools. Creating a unified standard for
USB drive application development will fuel innovation and foster cross-vendor
compatibility."

The first U3-compliant devices are expected to ship by this summer.