Iomega proposes ‘Zip Everywhere’ strategy

Forget the network, send your data by... er... 100MB floppy substitute

Iomega is pushing its 100MB Zip drive at peripherals manufacturers in an attempt to give the aging storage technology a new lease of life. The basic plan runs something like this: Iomega will persuade scanner, printer and Net TV vendors to build Zip drives into their products. The way Iomega sells it, the scheme is all about liberating users who have "been held hostage by the serial cable". As an example, the company cites its first design win, the forthcoming Microtek ImageDeck scanner. ImageDeck's built-in Zip drive allows users to create digital photo albums directly. Presumably when a Zip-enable printer comes along, they'll be able to slip in a disk and print out the picks, again without having to use a PC. Of course, unless monitor manufacturers also build Zip drives into their displays, no one will ever be able to see your photo album, but Iomega doesn't seem to have figured that one out. Essentially, Iomega appears to want to replace the network with Zip disks. This is nonsense (a) because the network is patently a better way of transferring data between peripherals let alone PCs and (b) because you still need a PC to tidy up your scans and do all the other stuff machines can't do for you, such as write emails and critiques of Wittgenstein. And there's the rub: Iomega's real agenda here is to get more PC vendors to build in Zip drives as standard rather than simply offer them as optional extras. With hard disk becoming ever more capacious and network bandwidth and connection speeds increasing, it's become increasingly unnecessary to use portable storage. So users don't specify Zip drives so often, so vendors don't order as many, and Iomega finds it has to come up with new methods of winning them back. It's not just a problem for Iomega -- Syquest's decision to suspend operations (see Chapter 11 looms for Syquest) is just a more extreme symptom of the same malaise. Imation hasn't had a great deal of success persuading vendors and users to choose its 120MB SuperDisk -- and that's compatible with 1.44MB floppy disks. Sony's superior alternative still hasn't come to market. Still, it may be onto something with the Net TV angle. Working on the assumption that many set-top box users won't have access to a PC -- otherwise why use a set-top box? -- users may come to demand some kind of storage, but it's more likely to be some kind of DVD-RAM product than a PC-oriented technology that's now looking long in the tooth. ® Click for more stories Click for story index

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