In a Reuter's report Seagate CEO Bill Watkins said his company is looking to buy software technology that helps people use disk storage more. This may have been prompted originally by Maxtor's successful introduction of its One Touch backup product; a Maxtor external drive bundled with (then) Dantz Retrospect backup software. You could backup your data to this external drive with one push of a button on the drive.

Maxtor has just announced generation three of this. Seagate has a similar product using Bounce Back software. The idea seems to be to go further in helping users move information onto an external - or internal - drive. Rather than passively wait for operating system and application software vendors to develop SW facilities to collect and move multimedia data to the drives Seagate is going to go out and find such software, buy the technology or the company and then push it hard.

Seagate isn't trying to enlarge the use of disk storage generally here, I believe, so much as capturing market share from its rivals. Apart from relatively minor speeds and feeds differences a disk drive is a disk drive to consumers.

There is a similarity here to the U3 idea of accelerating flash memory stick sales by bundling software with the product to provide a means of carrying your PC environment around on the stick. Again, a USB thumb drive is a USB thumb drive to consumers generally speaking.

OEMs are a different matter. Speeds and feeds are vital to them whereas having bundled application SW with a drive won't be unless they are punting product at a particular market.

We are seeing some storage HW suppliers staring to move up the 'application stack'. It will be interesting to see if others follow suit. Will we see Hitachi GST start selling external drives bundled with SW for example?

Say goodbye to the mobile phone
Watkins has also said that flash memory use in mobile devices drives up the amount of content to be stored elsewhere on hard drives, in the home for example. This indicates to me that Seagate may well think that microdrive use in hand-held mobile devices does not have long to go before flash memory replaces it.

It also indicates that once you have 3 to 10GB of flash as an affordable item then cache in notebook computers, between RAM and the hard drive, could become important and, by delaying/reducing hard drive use, prolong battery life. That would be welcome.