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Seagate Bets On DAVE Mobile Wireless Drives

There are a couple truisms in the world of mobile consumer electronics right now: hip consumers love their portable devices, and hip consumers love their digital media. The problem is that the storage requirements of digital video strain the capabilities of all but the mightiest cell phones and PDAs. So leading drive manufacturer Seagate is betting that consumers are ready to cart their digital media around with them on a hard drive—so long as that hard drive is small, svelte, and sports integrated wireless capabilities so there’s no on-the-run cable-tangle to unravel.

So at the DEMO 07 conference, Seagate formally took the wraps off its Digital Audio Video Experience (DAVE) technology, a project which has been floating just under the radar for a while under the codename “Cricket.” The idea is that the DAVE drives turn mobile devices into “DVR/MP3 powerhouses,” offering storage capacities of 10 to 20 GB—we’re sure that would expand, over time—in form factors about the size of a credit card and about 1 cm thick so mobile device users won’t have any compunction about carrying one (or more) of them around. The DAVE drives would communicate with mobile phones and other devices using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections, so users of those devices can have all the storage capacity of a hard disk without the hassle of physically connecting to them. Seagate’s reference design weighs about 2.5 ounces and offers up to 10 hours of media-streaming performance from a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and up to 14 days of standby power.

“Mobile telephony is undergoing a multimedia revolution, and the DAVE mobile content platform will provide even more fuel for the growth of new music and video services over mobile networks,” said Patrick King, senior VP and general manager of Seagate’s consumer electronics business unit, in a statement. “Products using DAVE technology will enable digital content, whether for business or entertainment use, to be stored, moved, and connected in ways never before possible. Mobile carriers can use this technology for creating value from their investments in high-bandwidth networks, and mobile handset manufacturers have another tool for turning the multimedia phone into the center of the mobile consumer’s digital life.”

Seagate plans to offer the DAVE technologies for other manufacturers to market under their own brand names, and is touting the idea both to consumers who need an easy way to cart around more side-loaded digital media, but also to mobile service operators: after all, if consumers have the capacity to download oodles of high-prices over-the-air media, don’t you think they will? Seagate is also touting the capability to upload “massive” video and audio files to media sharing sites like Flickr, MySpace, and YouTube (mobile operators, again, take note!). The DAVE system will be DRM agnostic, meaning that if you pair the device up with someone else’s mobile phone, they won’t be magically conferred a license to your protected media.

Seagate plans to release an SDK for the Dave platform in March, and expect DAVE will be available to phone makers and service providers in the second quarter of 2007.

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