NEW YORK (CNNfn) - IBM introduced a miniature hard drive Tuesday that has three times the storage capacity of a similar device it rolled out a year ago for use in a new generation of portable computing devices.|
IBM's new Microdrive packs one gigabyte (GB) of data storage capacity on a disk the size of a U.S. 25-cent coin. When the company introduced the first Microdrive a year ago, it held 340 megabytes and had one-third the storage density of the new version.
IBM (IBM: Research, Estimates) said that the newest Microdrive can hold up to 1,000 high-resolution photographs, a thousand 200-page novels, or nearly 18 hours of high-quality digital audio music.
The company designed the 1 GB Microdrive for use in a wide variety of handheld electronic products including digital cameras, handheld PCs, personal digital assistants, portable Internet music players and video cameras. It also can serve as a data-exchange accessory to notebook computers, desktop computers and printers. Future applications may include wearable computers, electronic books, global positioning system receivers, smart phones and electronic wallets, IBM said.
"Using the new Microdrive, a company's entire multimedia product catalog -- as well as a suite of powerful e-business applications -- can be carried around in a shirt pocket," Michael Kuptz, director of IBM Microdrive Products, said.
IBM introduced the world's first gigabyte-capacity disk drive, the 3380, in 1980. It was the size of a refrigerator, weighed 550 pounds and cost $40,000. The Microdrive announced today is smaller than a matchbook, weighs less than an ounce and will be available for less than $500.
IBM will start shipping limited quantities of the 1 GB Microdrive to original equipment manufacturers and distributors in July. Retail shipment is scheduled for September. Companies that have designed or plan to design devices compatible with the new Microdrive include Acer, Casio Computer, Eastman Kodak, Fuji Photo Film, Hewlett-Packard, i2Go, Minolta Co., Nikon Corp., Psion, Ricoh Co., and Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd.
However, consumers will have to pay a fairly steep price for the degree of miniaturization the new drive provides. IBM has priced a 512-megabyte version of the Microdrive at $399, and the 1GB version at $499. Those prices are much higher on a per-megabyte basis than traditional 3.5" internal hard drives. As examples, a 13-GB standard-sized hard drive sells for about $180, and a 20-GB standard-sized drive goes for about $230.
IBM faces competition in the hard disk drive market from several companies, including Seagate Technology (SEG: Research, Estimates) and Maxtor (MXTR: Research, Estimates).