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iPod nano success may kill drive storage market

updated 11:55 am EDT, Mon October 3, 2005

Nano to kill HD market?

Apple's flash-based iPod Nano is predicted to be Apple's best-selling iPod ever, and with flash memory capacities on the rise as prices continue to drop, some analysts are predicting the are expected by next year. Analysts believe falling flash prices are key to the evolution of the MP3 player as a mass-market device, and Jupiter Research estimates there will be 56 million MP3 players in the world by 2010, with more than half of these being flash devices that hold 1,000 songs or less, with roughly 5GB capacities, according to the report.




by MacNN Staff

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  1. ebeyer

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Hard drives?

    Can it really be much longer before we start to see whole computer systems running with Flash RAM instead of hard drives? How amazing would that be, in terms of performance and lower power consumption. Maybe the age of the hard drive will soon be passed.

  1. trevc

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    returns?

    I wonder if things will change?

    We had a 20GB and then I received a nano for a birthday. I was technically in lust. This faded when I realized I had all my photos on it but had no video out. It faded further when I'm getting ~5 hours battery life. Still, they have the form-factor right, just wonder if the shine will come off or if I'm an anomoly.

    I just returned it and will continue using my 20GB until the 'iPodvideo' or newer comes out.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Pointless jump

    This is a lousily written headline and/or article. The iPod nano will have no effect on whether portable storage hard drives go the way of the dinosaur. Whether that happens or not would occur whether the Nano was released or not. Flash memory isn't new. Using it for storage isn't new (USB keys). It getting larger and larger capacities isn't new or tied to the nano. Nothing about this is tied to the nano. The best you can say is that its a good example of the replacement.

    Whether Flash memory will replace HDs is more dependent on their capabilities and size. Flash memory might hit 16GB next year. ooh. Just big enough to hold 1.5 hours of iMovie video. Or one-fifteenth of the contents of my hard drive. And what's the MTBF on flash memory. How secure and safe is your data from being compromised (i.e. what's the possibilities of your word file going "pfft"?) What type of read/write performance are we talking about with flash memory? What about RAID capabilities?

    Questions, questions, questions.

  1. beeble

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    16GB in a year

    At some point soon we're going to start seeing laptops with 120GB HD or 32GB Flash options. Due to the fact that many people don't need the vast expanses of hard drive space that come on modern laptops, the advantages of a significant drop in power consumption (ie extended battery life) and quite likely a significant boost in performance will make taking the lower secondary storage option very attractive.

    And of course it isn't going to stay at 32GB for long. It all depends on price like everything else.

  1. tomodachi

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: pointless jump

    Is that so? What if 50% (just a random figure I pulled out to make a point) of all "portable storage HDD" were purchased by Apple to be shipped with iPods? And what if Apple will sell 20 times more iPod nanos (with flash drives) than your normal HDD iPods? Wouldn't Apple's shift towards pushing the nano have precisely the kind of effect that this article is talking about? And if the rest of the industry follows Apple's footsteps (like the always do)?

  1. xianman

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    RE: Pointless jump

    I would tend to disagree with your analysis that getting higher capacity flash memory has absolutely nothing to do with the Nano. I would say the Nano is a huge push to the industry to increase size and reduce price. Without a mainstream product such as the Nano, memory size would likely increase but prices would most likely remain out of reach for the average person, as history has shown.

  1. Clive

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Maths please

    "30 times less power", eh? You mean a thirtieth of the current power, or 3.33% - 30 times "less" is something like 1 x -30, which is a nagative number.

    Or perhaps that's it, flash memory actually generates power to drive the rest of the system!

  1. LouZer

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: pointless jump

    Is that so? What if 50% (just a random figure I pulled out to make a point) of all "portable storage HDD" were purchased by Apple to be shipped with iPods? And what if Apple will sell 20 times more iPod nanos (with flash drives) than your normal HDD iPods? Wouldn't Apple's shift towards pushing the nano have precisely the kind of effect that this article is talking about? And if the rest of the industry follows Apple's footsteps (like the always do)?

    OK, but who cares that the Nano sells more than a HDD iPod. That MIGHT push the MP3 market more one way or the other (however, generally, the MP3 market, except for the iPod, had already embraced flash memory for its devices for several years). But there's nothing about the direction of an MP3 market that somehow is going to push the HDs out of computers and other devices. There's just a disconnect.

    Now, if Apple started selling iBooks and Powerbooks with Flash memory instead of hard drives, that would be a cause/effect type deal. But iPods aren't iBooks. One's a music player, the other's a computer.

  1. LouZer

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    More jumping

    I would tend to disagree with your analysis that getting higher capacity flash memory has absolutely nothing to do with the Nano. I would say the Nano is a huge push to the industry to increase size and reduce price. Without a mainstream product such as the Nano, memory size would likely increase but prices would most likely remain out of reach for the average person, as history has shown.

    Well, actually, memory size is out of reach for the average person. The only ones getting a good deal is Apple. And they're not passing that savings onto its users. The goal of the flash memory developers isn't to sell 4GB chips to apple, or just appease the MP3 market. They want to replace hard drives (the Samsung chief has said as much). Ergo, they already have a driving force to increase capacities to 32GB and beyond. The Nano is nice for them, because they can sell their current stuff, rather than wait for some people to want a 4GB card for their digital camera. But this is just a stop along the way. They know they need higher capacities to jump from playthings (MP3 players, PDAs, etc) to "prime time" (computers), where the money really is.

    BTW, the shuffle uses flash memory too. How come no one talked about how THAT was going to drive the HD market away? (Or did they?)

    The Nano is nice, but I doubt there's any computer or hardware executives out there going "Hey, check it out. The iPod now uses flash memory! Wait! I've got an idea! What if they made even larger flash memory! Then we could use it to replace a hard drive like Apple did, and make a computer that uses less memory!" People have been talking about this for years. Get with the times, people!

    Oh, and what Apple or the like really could do is stick a smallish 8GB or 16GB card in an iBook/Powerbook, use it to store the OS and Apps folders, as well as a copy of the user's home folder, and basically treat it like a RAM disk. This way you could have your large hard drive for large files and most work, but be able to use a flash-based copy of the OS and your stuff when working on a plane, say, thus actually being able to work the entire trip without pulling out the plug (if you went on a plane that had a plug, that is).

  1. xianman

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    RE: More jumping

    How can you say they are not passing the savings on to the end users? I just checked Amazon for current pricing on 4GB flash memory cards and the price is anywhere from $235 - $395, and none of those include color screens, batteries, cpus or playback music.

    As for samsung wanting to be able to eventually phase out hard drives, they would need a vehicle to grow the memory. Most people don't need 32GB's of storage for their 5 megapixel camera. And people obviously are not going to downgrade their current hard drives for smaller flash based memory ones. And I certainly don't see any other mp3 players out their with the clout of the iPod that could be of much influence in the industry. Now with the Nano out, there is a decent vehicle for the masses with growth potential as far as storage is concerned. Who wouldn't want to replace their current iPod with a 32GB, or h*** even a 64GB Nano? So I fully disagree with you that execs ears are perking up now to the idea of flash based memory becoming an option for the future of mobile storage.

    As for the Shuffle, it seems painfully obvious that it is not a very good vehicle for growing memory. I don't think many people would want a 32GB mp3 player that had NO SCREEN.

    As to your last point, if you really wanted to for whatever reason, you can probably do something similar now with some flash memory and a PC card adapter, although I'm not really sure why you would want to. The screen is the biggest draw on the battery, and you can put the hard drive to sleep and work out of RAM for the most part anyway. Also current flash memory is fairly slow, not to mention an 8GB flash card costs around $700.

    So really all I'm saying is the iPod is a big phenomenon, and I see that it can, better than anything else out their currently, pave the way for bigger, faster flash memory.

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