Kevin Werbach writes:
Mobile devices are about to become much more powerful, and storage is the reason. There have been three waves of evolution in portable storage, each of which has produced new product categories. The first development was affordable flash memory, allowing handhelds to carry hundreds of addresses and user-installed applications. That was enough to launch the PalmPilot, which created the market for personal digital assistants. The second wave was removable storage, using the Secure Digital, CompactFlash, or MemoryStick standards. Without the ability to pop data into and out of a device, we wouldn’t have digital cameras. And the same basic technology, sealed into devices, powered the first generation of handheld MP3 music players. The third wave of portable storage was tiny hard drives, beginning with the 1.8 inch-wide Hitachi drives in Apple’s iPod.
A new player called Cornice believes it can beat the big guys with a new architecture built from the ground up for portable storage. Cornice makes tiny hard drives with component price points below $70, allowing for $200 end-user devices with over a gigabyte of storage.
A mobile phone with storage isn’t just an interface for rich media, applications, and files located elsewhere — it’s a full-fledged computer. There will be little reason to carry a separate camera, organizer, or music player. With a few gigabytes of stage, a mobile phone becomes a multipurpose information appliance. For businesspeople, it becomes the tool for carrying Powerpoint presentations and word-processing files, rather than lugging around a laptop. For the consumer, it becomes the repository for photos, movies and music. You’ll send copies of that content to a network server for backup or to share it with your friends, but you’ll still carry copies with you everywhere.
The new wave of portable storage also means the doom of the consumer digital camera…We’ll also see much more powerful location-based services. A two-gigabyte microdrive can hold an entire continent worth of mapping data.