Tuesday, January 03, 2006

On the ground: 10GB hard drives for phones

Cornice announced new 8GB and 10GB mini hard drives, around 1 inch in size, that could fit in mobile devices like cell phones. This will allow devices to have much bigger memory sizes than with flash, currently around 30-40MB for internal memory and up to 2GB (soon to be 4GB) for expansion cards. The new drives also represent important advances in technology, including lower power consumption, better skip control and more robustness when dropped. Cornice is predicting that millions of phones will have these drives by 2009.

Studies are predicting that mini hard drives will be a key point to allow cell phones to compete with the higher end MP3 players such as the 20GB and 30GB iPods over the next years. This may be true, but we must be careful from jumping in that bandwagon too fast, as there are still some issues with having hard drives in mobile devices. First, any hard drive is going to use a decent amount of battery power. So with the bigger space comes less battery life. Also, most mobile devices don't have internal moving parts for a reason. When you introduce moving parts, the robustness usually goes down, and the risk of mechanical problems goes up. So it seems these may remain for a niche market, especially with flash cards of 4GB and bigger starting to appear on the market.

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