Iomega heads off removable contenders

Iomega heads off removable contenders

Iomega is claiming victory in the race to replace the 1.44MB floppy disk drive despite the continuing emergence of new technologies. Recent removable storage contenders include the Mitsubishi/Ricoh/Yamaha/Sony/Philips/Hewlett-Packard DVD-RW, and the Sony/Fuji HiFD.

Iomega's Australia and New Zealand managing director, Peter Dawson, says every global OEM has decided on Zip internal drives and local assemblers will follow.

"Eighty per cent of international vendors have made Zip their preferred product," he says. "The general market will follow because the issues they respond to are competition and consumer demand." Iomega has sold 14 million Zip drives, Dawson says.

Sony has high hopes for the HiFD drives. It pioneered the 3.5in floppy 18 years ago. Jointly developed by Sony and Fuji, the HiFD disks are also 3.5in, with 200MB capacity and a 3.6Mbps data transfer rate. Major disk drive makers, including Alps Electric and Teac, have announced support for the new specification, which has the advantage of being able to read and write 1.44MB floppy disks, officials say.

Meanwhile, at a recent seminar sponsored by Quantum, independent storage industry commentator Fred Richardson of NavStor suggested the recently demonstrated DVD-RW re-writable will replace the floppy, with 12 million DVD-RW or DVD-RAM (competing format) drives projected to ship in 2001. He expects that a million will ship in the first year. He also says an upcoming NFR (near field recording) removable drive with 18MB of capacity from Terastor will be hard to beat.

Iomega's Dawson acknowledges more capacity will be needed beyond Zip's current specifications but says DVD-RW is no competitor to Zip. "It's very slow, essentially archival," he says. "It will be a medium for packaging software.

"What Zip is all about is allowing people to have a removable storage medium at a reasonable cost and a means to transfer a significant quantity of data."

The Zip drive is a result of customer research which showed that users want 100MB capacity at the Zip price, says Dawson. "The Syquest Sparq [1GB] product is overkill for many people. It's a great product and better value per MB than the zip. But it's too expensive and at the wrong point in the market in terms of its IDE interface."

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