MF: For those not in the industry, what's the best way to stay on top of new trends?
TC: There are a number of educational venues to both learn about the technology and growth of digital content storage, and to see the companies and applications that impact the way companies do business. One of the most innovative is the Storage Visions 2005 Conference being held in conjunction with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) January 4-5, 2005 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Speakers from IBM Global Media and Entertainment, Intel, Microsoft Portable Media Center, the Motion Picture Association of America, Seagate Technology, StorageTek, and others will discuss how data storage integrates with content creation, content delivery, and home, auto, and mobile consumer electronics systems. Storage Visions is also touring scenic destinations at CES to highlight trends and innovations in storing and managing digital content.
MF: What are some of the most innovative applications you see?
TC: There are several. Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, and others are focusing on storage for cell phones; Motorola's G-3 phones will be multi-functional and have storage and video capabilities, needing the significant amounts of storage that only hard disk drives can provide. According to IDC, 2003 worldwide cell phone numbers were 536 million and will increase to 745 million in 2007. Eventually, all cell phones will have significant internal memory. Cell phones may also have removable memory so the user can switch his database among phones. Taking pictures may be for fun today, but we anticipate that the results of this activity will find their way into corporate databases tomorrow.
Entertainment digital content applications and users offer good glimpses into the storage future. Most future HDTV systems will have disk storage; Hitachi recently announced a 400 GB TV disk drive, which will store 400 hours of standard TV or video. Microsoft's Portable Media Player will be designed with at least 125 GB of storage capacity by 2007. The recently introduced players will also be designed to record and download high-definition as well as standard-definition video, and may include the ability to directly record video and connect to a wireless network.
At CES, the Storage Visions tour visits companies with next-generation optical disk formats and Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD technologies that offer interesting choices for entertainment storage and the general business storage environment. These formats are being developed to enable the recording, rewriting, and playback of high-definition (HD) video, as well as storing large amounts of data. Blu-ray Disc (BD) is the name of a next-generation optical disc format jointly developed by the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), a group of consumer electronics and PC companies that include Dell, Hitachi, HP, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TDK, and Thomson. Toshiba Corporation and NEC lead the rival HD-DVD camp. With the rapid growth of HDTV, the consumer demand for recording HD programming is quickly rising. These next-generation optical formats are expected to replace VCRs and DVD recorders in the coming years, with the transition to HDTV, as well as becoming a standard for PC data storage and HD movies in the future.
Even if you do not attend Storage Visions 2005, you'll want to keep tabs on these innovative companies on Storage Visions' CES Storage Tour. A free, self-guided CES storage tour can be downloaded from the Storage Visions Web site.