Post of the Day
June 15, 1998

From our AOL
Iomega Board

Subject: Why there will be a standard
Author: Nano602

I have been an iomega holder for close to three years but rarely post. I have to disagree with Hypemenot's continued assertion that there will not be a (near) standard for removable storage. The need for universal standard is not about software distribution. It is based on the upcoming explosion in digital consumer electronics (killer application such as digital photography) and the need for peer compatibility (file exchange). Let me elaborate.

I own two zip drives at home, 5 zip drives and 2 jazz drives at work. When I started using zip drives a few yeras ago, it was mostly for backup with occasional transporting of large graphic files between computers. Later on, the use expanded to organization and internet download (for example, each kid has their own work disk and fun disk so they don't mess up the hard disk). Although the need for disks increased slowly, there was never any great demand for new disks after the initial purchase. I also noticed similar situation among colleagues and friends, that is, a continuous demand for disk is not there after the initial purchase.

But everthing changed after I purchased a Kodak DC120 camera recently. The need for new disks exploded. Each zip disk holds about 30 some pictures in medium resolution. Although these pictures can be stored on hard disk. There are many reasons why one needs zip disk: back up, organization, and file sharing. For example, my daughter wants her prom pictures on one disk, graduation on the other. My son want his pictures on his disk,..etc. This also gives them the flexibility to play with the pictures on the other computer when I am using the one storing the pictures. Essentially we use the hard drive as the backup drive. I now own 30 some disks and increasing. The same thing happened at work. I now use digital camera for many data collection and for presentation. The need for disks exploded. This upcoming explosion in digital electronics (not just digital camera) is going to drive the explosive growth for removable disks.

"...since I have a zip they all have to get a zip (peer compatibility is more important than backward compatibility)."  
So why there is a need for just one standard removable storage? Simply, file sharing. There is a common myth that file sharing through email, network,.. can replace the need for the actual disk. First of all, the speed is too slow currently for sending pictures effectively through email (assuming if one wants to keep the resolution). For example, I took a few pictures for my neighbors and send them through email. Each picture took ~30 min. for upload and ~30 min. for download and it is just unbearable. The only practical way for my family and friends to share my digital pictures is through a removable disk and since I have a zip they all have to get a zip (peer compatibility is more important than backward compatibility).

This need won't go away even after the bandwidth bottleneck is solved several years from now. My company is fully networked. I share files with my secretary and colleagues through comapny network (fast ethernet). Although 99% of the file sharing is done through network. There is ALWAYS an occasional need for exchanging files on disk (for a wide variety of reasons). As long as there is a 1% chance that we share files with disks, it dictates we use the same drive, which for all practical purpose means zip. We have people with LS120 drive (Compaq dumped a few of those through their business computer) but have to go out to get a zip drive just for the occasional file sharing. (Again, peer compatibility is much more important than backward compatibility). This applies to the comsumer side also.

These are my personal experience. While I am always an early technology adapter, this trend is inevitable. The need for removable storage will expand due to the digital electronics and bandwidth revolution. The need for file sharing through disk (even occasional) dictates the existence of one standard (which means zip). Rememer, no matter how advanced technology is, it is always human being's nature to want to hold something in the hands (to possess), to carry around, and to share.



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