— By Steve Pipe
Hot on the heels of the big Consumer Electronics Show, Seagate is diving into another influential technology gathering today.
By the standards of CES—which drew more than 140,000 people to Las Vegas earlier this month—theMacworld/iWorld show, which runs Thursday through Saturday at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, is fairly cozy, with about 26,000 attendees last year.
And while Apple stopped attending the show in 2009, the event remains influential, thanks largely to a passionate community of Apple enthusiasts. That loyal following makes the show a good fit for Seagate, which has greatly expanded its lineup of storage solutions for Apple products.
“We’re there to show our support for the Apple community and to demonstrate storage solutions we think Mac enthusiasts, whether they’re creative professionals or everyday consumers, will appreciate,” says Greg Falgiano, a senior Product Marketing manager for Retail at Seagate. “It’s also a great opportunity for us to get feedback about our products directly from end users.”
The Macworld event adds “iWorld” to its official name this year to reflect a shift toward more mobile devices, such as the iPad and iPhone. And those gadgets have never been hotter. On Tuesday, Apple announced it sold a record 37.04 million iPhone units in its fiscal first quarter, up 128 percent from the same period last year, and 15.3 million iPads, up 111 percent from a year ago.
Satellite on the Big Screen
Seagate will demonstrate its support for the iPad with an innovative new demo of its GoFlex Satellite™ mobile wireless storage device. The demo includes a 50-inch display screen connected to an iPad via HDMI. The display will show visitors to Seagate’s booth how easy the GoFlex Satellite interface is to navigate—and how simple it is to carry their entire libraries of music, movies and other content with them on the go.
Seagate also will announce a firmware upgrade for the GoFlex Satellite. The upgrade, which will be available for free download in March, will enable consumers to access the Internet and stream their media libraries at the same time. The firmware upgrade also extends the Satellite’s battery life from five hours to eight hours.
Let’s say you’re using your GoFlex Satellite in a Starbucks store. With the firmware upgrade, the GoFlex Satellite’s built-in WiFi connects to your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch (or an Android mobile device) The Satellite then gives you an option to connect to the coffee store’s own WiFi connection, enabling Internet access in addition to media streaming.
“We’ve heard from a lot of consumers that they wanted to do more with their Satellite,” explains Falgiano. “People who like to listen to a lot of music while they’re on the go, for example, also want to check their email or catch up on the news. This is an example of how we’re listening to feedback from end users and reviews from the tech press to build a better product.”
And for the first time, those users can purchase Seagate products directly at the show. Among the Seagate storage solutions displayed at Macworld/iWorld are a wide range of GoFlex™ for Mac® external drives, including a new 500GB GoFlex® Slim for Mac® portable drive.
Storage Sweet Spot
“Our current GoFlex Slim has been a hit, but it’s only been available in 320GB until now,” says Falgiano. “500GB is a real sweet spot for consumers. Having half a terabyte of storage in such a small form factor should make it an even more compelling product.”
Also at the show, Seagate will demonstrate its new GoFlex® Thunderbolt Adapter and GoFlex Desk Thunderbolt Adapter. The former supports 2.5-inch drives and is priced at $100, while the latter supports 3.5-inch drives and is priced at $190. Running at 10Gbps, the Intel-developed Thunderbolt interface is up to 12 times faster than FireWire 800 connections and 20 times faster than USB 2.0.
In its coverage of the CES event, the New York Times said Seagate’s Thunderbolt adapter is “an accessory that will give some hard drives a major performance boost.”
Apple’s new Mac computers include Thunderbolt slots, but there haven’t been many Thunderbolt-compatible hard drives to choose from until now. Seagate and Western Digital both announced Thunderbolt solutions at the CES show, but WD’s offerings aren’t expected to reach the market until the middle of this calendar year. Seagate’s Thunderbolt offerings will begin shipping in the next few weeks.