What's dumber than SanDisk's (NASDAQ:SNDK) move to put out enhanced music CDs on microSD memory cards? How about this morning's rollout of $20 players dedicated to playing those cards?

SanDisk's Sansa slotMusic Player is hitting a price-sensitive market at the right time, but it's the wrong product. Roughly the size of a small Zippo lighter, it's a slave to the success of the slotMusic cards. And since the selling point on the slotMusic cards announced last month was that the memory cards outdo digital downloads by offering eye-candy bonuses like digital album art and liner notes, what are they doing on a low-end player without a screen?

You do have to give props to SanDisk's marketing department. It is putting out artist-branded players, so it may win over a few rabid Abba or Robin Thicke fans who may ultimately find the players useful as brass knuckles at the next bar fight. Those players come prepackaged with the artist's slotMusic card, so it's a sweet deal.

SanDisk is also cleverly promoting the fact that the players require no Internet connections and no wires (beyond the headphones). "No charging" touts the site's tech specs. Dig deeper and you'll find out that it can't be recharged because you have to physically replace the AAA battery every 15 hours.

I know. Twenty bucks! No one expects color screens, internal memory, and rechargeable batteries at that price. However, when a throwback distribution media like a pre-recorded memory card is flawed, so is the player.

The one saving grace -- that consumers can preload their own microSD cards with MP3s -- may also be a savings disgrace. I'm not talking just about the freakish novelty of listening to Slipknot on an Abba player. If it takes off, what will it do for SanDisk's pricier Sansa players? It will dent the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) shuffle and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Zune, too, but there's no joy in an attack when collateral damage takes a cannibalistic nibble.  

It also spins the digital distribution revolution until its staggering in the wrong direction. Portable media players are vital because they transfer the power of distribution to the online storefronts like Apple's iTunes, Napster (NASDAQ:NAPS), and RealNetworks' (NASDAQ:RNWK) Rhapsody. SanDisk's slotMusic is taking a step back by empowering the labels again. I can see what some of the SanDisk label partners like Warner Music Group (NYSE:WMG) and Sony (NYSE:SNE) see in supporting slotMusic, but what's in it for SanDisk? Selling more microSD cards, sure, but that's a short-lived victory. If consumers gravitate to customizing the playlists on the rewriteable cards, it dries up demand for additional cards while bringing the music fan back to the computer. Yes, digital delivery will find a way to get around this detour.

Want to hear Coldplay on the SanDisk slotMusic Player? Just wait a year when nobody wants these things. At that point, every rare slotMusic purchase will be a cold play.

Oldies but goldies to jam along to:

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz isn't very cool. He's lukewarm at best. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned here. He is part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.