May 15th, 2015

An Apple Camera Makes No Sense, But This Does

iCloud_Photos_iPhone4s_iPad_MBP15inch_PRINT Over on LinkedIn, Sean White argues that with the Watch, Apple is now in the business of disaggregating pieces of the iPhone so it only makes sense for Apple to launch a standalone digital camera next.

“The watch is an obvious step for Apple because it’s a familiar device that benefits from ensemble integration…. An Apple Camera would benefit from the same integration and design,” White writes.

Color me skeptical. Wearable technology is a growing category, so Apple’s decision to dip its toe (or is that wrist?) into that market makes sense. The standalone digital cameras business, on the other hand, isn’t growing (you can thank the iPhone for that).

But that’s not to say there isn’t a significant photo-related opportunity for Apple to capitalize on, one that would speak to both the casual snap-shooter and the professional: iCloud.

Apple has taken a relatively cautious and slow-moving approach to the cloud. iCloud originally debuted as a means of syncing files between Apple devices and only recently evolved into a proper file storage system. Nonetheless, iCloud remains immature and costly relative to its competitors. But Apple has something many of its cloud competitors don’t have: profit. A lot of it.

Let’s back up.

In our piece surveying long-term storage options for photographers, one theme came up again and again: the cloud had a lot of promise as a long-term archive, but the costs and risks associated with a cloud provider going out of business makes many users reluctant to entrust their archives to the cloud.

While cloud storage is definitely here to stay, picking the right cloud provider is still an exercise in stock-picking. Dropbox and Box, for instance, are both flush with venture capital, but Box isn’t profitable and Dropbox’s financials are a mystery. Google is profitable, but a business model built on data-mining isn’t exactly a welcoming home for important creative assets.

Apple, on the other hand, has more cash lying around than some nation states. With that money they could not simply build a better cloud storage service, they could guarantee a long-lasting one. What if Apple used a portion of this towering mountain of cash to back a “lifetime guarantee” for iCloud–a kind of financial promissory note to reassure users that images stored in Apple’s servers will remain accessible for generations? You could argue that this guarantee is implicit in iCloud today given that Apple is so wildly profitable, but this promise could be made explicit and indeed, be the principle differentiator for Apple versus its other cloud rivals.

Just how they could structure and back such a promise is beyond the scope of this post, but it seems like a challenge worth tackling.

So a standalone Apple camera sounds like a dead-end. A lifetime or more of secure cloud storage, on the other hand, sounds like the future.

Related:

In the Digital Age, Longevity Is No Sure Thing

High Capacity Storage for Your Photo Archive

January 5th, 2015

Seagate Has the World’s Thinnest Portable Hard Drive

Seven-angle

Seagate hit CES with a slender new portable hard drive.

The Seagate Seven is being touted as the world’s thinnest portable 500GB drive. The 0.38-inch thin drive is nearly as thin as the iPhone 6 and is enclosed entirely in steel. It features USB 3.0 connectivity and will retail for $100 when it hit stores this month.

The company also launched a Personal Cloud storage product that enables users to back up PCs and mobile devices in addition to streaming content to connected TVs and media players.

The Personal Cloud drive can be configured to automatically back up its contents to cloud providers such as Amazon S3, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, HiDrive and Yandex.Disk.  The Personal Cloud drive can also be synchronized with Dropbox, Baidu and Google Drive to keep files consistent on both the hard drive and cloud service.

The drive will be sold in a single bay version in 3TB, 4TB and 5TB varieties from $170 to $250. It will also be sold in a two-bay version with 4TB, 6TB and 8TB capacities starting at $300. The two-bay drive can be configured to mirror the contents of one drive on another or to access both drives for maximum storage capacity.

Personal_Cloud_2-Bay-Right-3L-V2-hi-res

Finally, Seagate also launched a 500GB wireless drive for uploading mobile images and streaming content to up to three mobile devices. The unit’s battery is good for up to six hours of use. The drive offers USB 2.0 connectivity and will retail for $130.

April 8th, 2013

G-Tech Launches New Evolution Series Storage Products

G-Technology G-DOCK ev

G-Technology G-DOCK ev

Today at NAB2013, G-Technology announced the first three products in its Evolution Series lineup. They are the G-DOCK ev™ with Thunderbolt, the G-DRIVE® ev and the G-DRIVE ev PLUS external hard drive modules. The Evolution Series G-DOCK ev with Thunderbolt is a two-bay, hot-swappable JBOD media drive system with user-configurable RAID 1 (protected) or RAID 0 (performance). The two Evolution Series drives are both USB 3.0, 2.5-inch, and 7200RPM. The only real differences are that the  G-DRIVE ev allows transfer rates of up to 136MB/s while the G-DRIVE ev PLUS increases that to 250MB/s. The G-DRIVE ev comes in both 500GB and 1TB capacities while the G-DRIVE ev PLUS is only available as a 1TB drive.

Perhaps the most unique feature of the new Evolution Series products is that, unlike other RAID systems, the drive modules for the G-DOCK ev are standalone external drives. This means that you can take them with you as a regular external USB drive, then reconnect them to the  G-DOCK ev when you return. While going out and about with one of your RAID system drives is the kind of thing that would make many Network Administrators go white in the face, it can also be part of an efficient backup system.

Say you take one drive out to the job and have your assistant back up all images onto it onsite. Then when you return home,  that drive is mounted into your G-DOCK ev configured as RAID 1, and your data is protected as soon as the drive finishes mirroring. Having standalone drives also lends itself to offsite backup storage as well. Should your studio ever experience a fire or other disaster, the G-DRIVE ev drives that you have stored offsite not only would be protected, but would also be usable with no additional downtime caused by having to remount them in a new drive enclosure.

The G-DOCK ev, including two 1TB G-DRIVE ev modules, will be available in May through G-Technology and its Premier Channel Partners for an MSRP of $749.95. Additional 500GB or 1TB G-DRIVE ev modules can be purchased separately for a MSRP of $149.95 and $199.95, respectively. The higher throughput 1TB G-DRIVE ev PLUS modules will be available this summer for $349.95 MSRP. http://www.g-technology.com/