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May 28th, 2001

Are Zips Dead?

Back when Steve Jobs introduced the iMac, people around the world (myself included) were amazed that a floppy drive wasn’t included. How in the world could anyone get along without a floppy? I immediately pooh-poohed the iMac and said that the lack of floppy would make people think twice. While floppies weren’t available in some other recent Macs, this was the big test: would consumers miss a floppy drive?

The answer is proving to be a resounding no. Again, I’m not counting techheads in this one. For Joe Consumer, there’s very little reason to get a floppy or even need one. CD-RWs have really become a great option and, although they aren’t easily changed once closed, that’s why we’ve got email attachments.

With that in mind, I can’t help but wonder if the ubiquitous Iomega Zip drive is following the floppy’s footsteps. The last time I used a Zip was for print production purposes… but that was many months ago. If I need to transport a file between work and home, I email it to myself. If I need to bring a lot of data over, I burn a CD. Easy.

I think Iomega had an inkling of this. 100MB quickly became a relatively small amount of space, given the proliferation of MP3s and movie files. The Zip 250 was introduced to combat that, but let’s face it, 250MB is pretty small nowadays. Backups would be mighty difficult… especially when a CD-ROM holds 650MB. (Writeable DVD-ROMs, whenever those get sorted out, will hold multiple GB.) Iomega even went so far as to put the Zip name on its line of CD burners… but I think it was too little too late.

So what do you think? There’ll always be someone that needs a floppy, somewhere, particularly those not running Windows or OS X. And there’ll always be someone who needs a Zip. But for the mainstream user, email and CD-ROMs seem to cover all the bases. Do we miss those Zips? -pm

Posted in Technology

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