External Hard Drives Go for the Glitz

The external hard drive is a routine commodity, and that means they all sell for about the same price. Now, vendors are using style and color to attract customers, according to the New York Times.

LaCie has come out with the d2 drive. Itis main attraction is that it was designed by a Scotsman who has designed lamps.

Hewlett Packard has also taken note of customer reactions to colorful devices. HP plans to sell a new consumer storage device call the MediaSmart home server designed to connect to the home network. A four terabyte NAS device might have put consumers off before, but HP has recognized design as a key factor, and cast it in black with blue lights.

"We gave design an equal position at the table with the marketing people," said Satjiv Chahil, Hewlett-Packard?s senior vice president for global marketing.

In other examples, Western Digital has added concentric circles of blue light to one of its products to indicate the amount of storage used. Seagate drives have been redesigned by Frog Design and are intended to create visual, emotional ties to the data on the drives.

The iPod, with its great style and ability to store vast quantities of customer songs and videos may have started this trend. Hard drive vendors have likely taken note of how customers feel about their iPods and how Apple has, in effect, differentiated the commodity hard drive.

However, there may be more than just color, style and product differentiation to all this. Philippe Spruch, the chief executive of LaCie, weighed in. "Design is a translation of a well-done product, and people want to feel safe about their storage," he said. "It?s not just about the product being trendy."