Packing Efficiency

The Consumerist has been running an amusing series of posts on companies that ship small things in ridiculously oversized boxes. So I was curious to see how my recent order of a 4GB MicroSD flash card would be shipped… These things, if you haven’t seen one, are so tiny it’s silly. Here’s my new card, next to the box it shipped in:

What? Can’t see it? Lower left corner, on top of the dime…

I couldn’t resist playing with some numbers.

Size of MicroSD card: 11mm x 15mm x 1mm = 0.165 cm^3
Size of shipping box: 8″ x 10″ x 6″ = 7870 cm^3
Packing efficiency: 0.0021%

If they had actually filled that box to capacity, I would have received 47,000 cards with 186 TB of storage… At a cost of $1.34 million (plus $238,000 for shipping). The 3-day shipping took 107 hours (stupid weekend), so the bandwidth of such a shipment would have been 506MBps.

“Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway.” Indeed.