Storage devices have come a long way from the ancient times of 8 Kb Floppy disks to the first Hard disk drives to Pen drives storing data as little as 256MB.
Today with the shrinking physical size of flash memory devices and the Solid State Drive revolution, devices are beginning to store more and more data within comparatively smaller space. The true evolution of storage devices still lies in the Cloud Storage revolution.
Days when users will have unlimited access to endless storage that is both portable and permanent is still a dream around the horizon but if firms like Dropbox and Box.net have their way, it is definitely approaching fast.
The real question however is whether Cloud Storage will completely eliminate the need for pen drives, Memory cards and other such storage devices?
Pen drives and Storage device rage
Pen drives and other storage devices have been growth drivers for several online retailers recently. It’s no surprise that most e-retailing stores get first time users from using coupons tied to memory cards or by using limited time deals on these devices.
Pen drives have the quality of being low cost but long term investments for most users. The trend has been continuing upwards with no sign of abatement so far. The difference is a growing demand for higher capacity pen drives with exceedingly high demand for 8-32GB pen drives and memory cards.
The trend looks set so far. However pen drives do suffer from the draw backs of being fragile to accidents and of being typically virus prone. Although the Pen drive is portable most users also find themselves absent when they most need them.
Growth Personal/Private Cloud Services
Most people prefer to have unlimited and uninterrupted access to their data. This has already been proven with the rise of Google Mail, image storage facilities such as Flickr and Picasa and more recently the rise of personal cloud services such as Drop Box, Box.net, and SkyDrive et al.
Dropbox is perhaps one of the first and most popular in this sector. The humble start up that was on the verge of an Apple Buy out in 2002 has come a long way with over 50 million users. Personal Cloud services are growing in exponential manner with more players entering the market including Apple with their iCloud and Google with Google Drive.
Smartphones and the rise of Cloud Storage adoption
The most significant driver for sale of memory cards has been the growth in Digital cameras and Smartphones recently. While Smartphones may be slowly eroding the sale of Digital cameras, their rise is definitely good news for the memory device manufacturers. However recent trends in the smartphone industry do make one stand up and take notice of the Cloud storage services.
The Smartphone industry today drives around the success of Marquee brands and models. Be it the Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S3 or the offerings from HTC and Sony. In most cases, premium smartphones do not currently come with the option for expansion of memory through micro SD cards. Phones such as Sony Xperia S, HTC One S, iPhone 5, etc. are packed with high internal memory space as it is and seldom require more space for users to store additional data.
However, Users do fear that even a space of 16GB or 32GB will not suffice their growing data consumption needs.
Smartphone companies have now aligned with Cloud storage providers to provide additional storage facility. HTC having tied up with Drop Box, Sony with Box.net and Apple adding the iCloud feature for the users for its own products. With this new trend, one may wonder if Memory cards as we know it may become a thing of the past.
Cloud Storage: The path forward
Cloud Storage has long been touted as the saviour of modern industry and growing data needs of enterprises. It seems now the same principle applies to the average user as well. With users increasingly taking pictures, downloading games, movies, apps and much more, Data consumption has come a long way.
Another key impact area for this data is its availability across devices. While most of this is today taken care by the use of transferable data storage devices such as Pen drives and memory card, the real end result should be Cloud. Cloud Storage facilities give the user freedom of access to data anywhere and on any device. The only limitation today to this is the lack of proper internet facility and the defragmentation of Cloud services and hardware ecosystems. For example, iCloud is available only for Apple devices, SkyDrive only for Microsoft and so far.
The real end result is to have a seamless Cloud storage experience for devices across devices of different devices similar to Open Source Applications and Software. We may still be far away from the days when devices have ready access to cloud storage across all devices.
Cloud Storage makes greater sense in general for long term data such as Pictures, Worksheets, etc. than for active data such as Apps and Games. However, this trend may soon change with growing internet speeds and faster hard disks as users will be able to access more live data without need for caching or storage within the device.
Data in Cloud is still accessible slower to the data stored in memory card. The Solution would be to use internal memory for games and apps and use the Cloud to store all other kinds of data.
Pen drives and Memory cards are going to be relevant in the near future. However with growing Cloud Service adoption, tie ups between hardware providers and Cloud service providers and shortages in the silicon memory devices, Cloud services definitely will be the future for most of the data storage needs. T
he pen drive and memory card may go the way of the Floppy Disk and CD in days to come.
We may still be 5 years away from that day.