Forbes: Dinky Drives To Drive New Devices

With a small hard drive, and a little imagination, the folks at Apple came up with the iPod, creating a massive consumer market segment in the process. As the makers of the tiny drives struggle to keep up with current demand, others are looking at what Apple has done and are trying to see how the small drives can be used in other devices as well. The challenge, according to a Forbes article, is to make the drives cheap enough to keep the device it ends up in within the means of a majority of consumers, and thatis not easy. From the Forbes article:

There are a lot of lessons still being learned from devices like Apple Computeris iPod music player, and not all of them have to do with how the music business is changing.

These lessons include what else is changing the consumer electronics business in general, and how that industry now has to look at data storage. One important trend that bears watching is the phenomenon of the small hard drive. Apple, with its iPod and iPod Mini, along with their many imitators, have proved that with a small hard drive designed into a clever product you can make big changes in the consumer electronics industry.

This lesson has been taken to heart by many in the storage industry. Companies like Toshiba and Hitachi in Japan and the privately held Cornice in the United States are creating ever smaller drives, that can pack a few gigabytes of storage on them, and they could start showing up in cell phones and PDAs as regular components as early as this year.

Today chipmaker Agere Systems announced new technology for chips that go inside hard drives. The new chips are aimed at helping hard drive manufacturers meet new demand for putting media files of all types--music, video, and whatever else you can think of--on an increasingly wide array of consumer electronics.

The article goes on to discuss some of the devices small hard drives might be used in, and the challenges of creating drives cheap enough to be purchased by the average consumer. You can read the full article at Forbes.