The inexorable rise of tiny laptop PCs bereft of optical drives coupled with faster internet access has led, inevitably, to a decrease in the use of CDs for shipping software.

While downloads are practical for most, sometimes having something tangible to show for a purchase is more satisfying, which is why software makers are turning to USB drives for distribution.

Reusable memory

One such company is Source Next from Japan, where CD-free laptops have long been popular. The firm's 30 software titles are all now available as either downloads or on flash drives.

Starting at ¥3,970 (£20), the range includes anti-virus software, phone utilities and various PC productivity applications, all on 1GB drives that weigh just 7g and which can be formatted and reused after installing the software they contain.

Source Next clearly has serious designs on the USB installation market and says it aims to sell around one million of its drives within the first year alone.