In a kind of reverse machismo strutting disk drive makers now want to be the smallest kid on the block. Hitachi GST has shrunk its technology down to the Seagate standard of 1 inch and 8GB capacity. This HGST 1 inch drive has a drop sensor that will park the heads if it senses falling. If this baby is in your mobile phone don't expect to use it in free-fall parachuting.

Toshiba is the world record holder with an 0.85 inch hard drive. It's launched a design competition in Europe to suggest things to do with it.

HGST has also lightened its 1.8 inch drive to a featherweight, less than half an ounce. Well, gee whiz.

But, setting aside the micro-mechanical engineering involved in putting a microscopic semi-conductor read:write head less than a hair's breadth above a semiconductor-type disk surface, why are we bothering? Shouldn't this sort of thing be done by flash memory? Doesn't it strike you as kind of, well, ridiculous, that the solution to the problem of getting eight gig of data in a mobile phone is a disk drive?

What kind of failure of the flash memory industry is it that can even allow such an idea to exist, let alone deliver product? Has that industry become so besotted with high prices that it's taken its eye off the power-consumption ball and let a hole in the market sector be breached by floods of little disk drives?

Let's see if some clever vendor brings out a USB thumb drive which offers 8GB stored on a microdrive instead of flash memory. Perhaps it will win the Toshiba design competition.