back to article Has Steve Jobs killed the consumer hard disk industry?

Has Apple prophet Steve Jobs just foretold the end of the desktop hard drive? He has brought down his tablets from Apple's mountain and the word from fanbois heaven is that the PC is just another device; iPad, iPod and iPhone users don't need to be tethered to it anymore. Instead of their PC and its hard drive being the main …

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  1. Steve ten Have
    Coffee/keyboard

    Now all they need to do...

    Now all they need to do is stop corralling their users into a 'gated' environment where the only things you can buy and install are from Apple directly. They also need to stop telling their users what they can and can't do with their devices.

    I'm going to sit here semi quietly waiting for the great Apple user blow back when they suddenly go all 'Logans Run' on Cupertino.

    ...I guess the less said about iOS5*cough*Android the better...

    1. NomNomNom

      can and cant

      "They also need to stop telling their users what they can and can't do with their devices."

      The problem is you are seeing it as the devices belong to the user. Instead think of it that the devices belong to Apple (who made them) and the users are just renting them out. A bit like how you don't own rights to a movie you buy.

      1. hillsy
        Big Brother

        "the devices belong to Apple and the users are just renting them out"

        This reminds me a bit of the classic "switch to Mac" parody:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEvYETWVK6M

        "I don't feel like I'm operating the Mac so much as I'm just there sharing the Mac experience..."

      2. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

        worse than that

        The devices own the people holding them. They hold their data hostage. If you want to see your family again (or at least your old family snaps) then you keep paying us the rental.

    2. Doug Glass
      Go

      Float 'em up ....

      ... shoot 'em down. Should be a great show huh?

  2. nichomach
    Stop

    *cough*

    "disk really does face becoming the new tape over the next five, ten and twenty years"

    What, the medium that everyone keeps saying is dead, but when you scratch the surface is still doing the same job it always was? Seriously, no. Have a look at your won reportage to see how dead tape is:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/15/google_streamline_lto/

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/18/tape_in_the_cloud/

    1. Captain TickTock
      Stop

      RTF Title

      the article is talking about consumer HDDs...

      I don't see a thriving consuming tape industry anywhere.

      Not that I'll be giving up my own private HDDs anytime soon...

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Thriving tape industry?

        When was there ever really a thriving desktop tape industry?

        Tape has always been somewhat like SCSI on the desktop. It's a technology that tends to be inherently expensive for the really robust gear. Being cheap with tape really doesn't work out well in the long run. Cheap tape tends to fail and is not really re-usable. Cheap tape also tends to be low capacity, too low capacity to be really useful. Tape in general is kind of awkward and always has been. It's always been better if you had some sort of jukebox or robot.

        In short, it's a technology not well suited to consumer use. Short of needing to use it for a Vic-20, it has always been kind of awkward in the consumer space.

        Tape continues to do what it has always does, kind of like mainframes.

        1. TheOtherHobbbes

          Oh yes

          Back in the Speccy days, tape was thriving.

          If you mean PC/Mac tape - not really.

          But when iCloud gives you a total of (awestruck silence!) 5GB, it's not going to be replacing hard disks any time soon.

          When that goes up to 5TB, it might start being competitive with local storage.

          The point of iCloud is that it makes it certain kinds of data social, in a limited way.

          It's not a viable disk replacement, and likely never will be.

    2. NomNomNom

      tape is dead

      tape *is* dead. ive seen more zip drives than tapes in the past year!

      1. Ilgaz

        you won't see it

        Best tape drive is like a mainframe or a fully redundant server. Ordinary people never sees them especially when we talk about real enterprise.

        Same goes for mainframes, they run and they are still sold but generally they are buried underground at a datacenter middle of nowhere.

        1. Nigel 11
          Facepalm

          Underground datacentre?

          Underground datacentres aren't a very smart idea. They can fill up with wet brown stuff when something goes wrong with the pipework or the weather.

          But yes, real tape facilities are normally well-hidden from ordinary users.

          1. Ilgaz

            I say middle of nowhere, no humans around

            I know a bank putting their mainframe sysplex middle of nowhere and underground. There is almost no civilization there. 2 facilities, 75 KM away eachother and there is also usual "fallback" contract in a civilized city.

      2. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

        SD is the new floppy

        If you need cheap simple removable storage then the SD card is it. It's less complicated that fitting a USB slot to a device and certainly less fiddly than a CD-ROM burner.

        As for ZIP drives, they are long dead. It was just one of the replacement floppy technologies.

        It does seem they are trying to kill the SD card. To begin with the camera companies all kept coming out with new FLASH card formats. At least that's stopped, now they just keep coming out with new SD card sizes.

  3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    he'd like to think so I'm sure

    There will be some people who will flock to iCloud et al and use a cloud of one flavour or another for everything they store/access/share/... Then there'll be people who use it for some data but they'll store other stuff locally and then there'll be people who will ignore the cloud completely and keep everything local. Therefore there will be still be a sizeable demand for HDD in the consumer market.

    I realise there is a need to grab attention with sensationalist headlines and spurious articles but these sweeping generalisations and broad-brush knee jerks are starting to get on my tits.

  5. xxlyyk

    Not so soon

    given the limited space in the iCloud (5gb) and limited time for photo's (30 days) I don't see this happening any time soon. iCloud does not stream remember, you still have to have local storage space.

    Personally I still want a local nas, using online stuff only as sync, if only as a backup of the cloud.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Tosh

    Total and utter tosh!

    Words actually escape me on how crap this article is. Utter Apple fanboyism at work.

    Just try streaming a 1080p movie onto your ipad from the icloud and see how utter icrap it is.

    1. KevinLewis
      Devil

      RE: he'd like to think so I'm sure

      "these sweeping generalisations and broad-brush knee jerks are starting to get on my tits"

      That comment has made my morning... THANK YOU!!

      Can you think of a world, where we don't every have any id (passport, driving license), where we have no paperwork, and then some idiot accidentally deletes the wrong person out of the system, and you no longer exist? Why am I thinking Demolition Man??

      End of HDD? Nah. Maybe use a different format, but everthing on the Cloud? You must be having a laugh.

      1. Oninoshiko
        Big Brother

        The movie that came to mind was not Demolition Man

        It was "Brazil (1985)."

    2. longbeast

      re: Just try streaming 1080p

      I remember people saying that youtube would never become popular, and that the business model was doomed, because there would never be the bandwidth for high quality streaming video.

      I will be very depressed if local storage really does start to become unavailable, if lack of demand kills off real PCs and we all get stuck with dodgy dumb-terminal-like phone computers. I hope that day doesn't come, but I'm not going to bet on cloud services being eternally crap to hold that day off.

      1. Keris

        A title is required

        There isn't enough bandwidth for high-quality streaming video, except for a few who pay through the nose for it (and happen to live in the right place to get it). Heck, half the time I can't even watch YouTube videos at 360p, let alone 720p or higher, without them pausing every few seconds. And the more people who try the worse the service becomes.

        There's no way I'm going to put my personal data (passwords, contact lists, financial details, etc.) onto anyone's 'cloud', it stays on my machines where I control who has access (apart from a break-in, but that can steal data on paper just as easily) and where I can do backups (I have no control over whether or how often 'cloud' data is backed up, nor on whether I can access it when I need it).

        1. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

          A title maybe enough

          we are talking about sync'ing with the iCloud here, not streaming everything. You still have the flash memory in the device. Unless you need all your movies in your hand all the time then you only need the one you're watching actually in the flash memory. Also remember that there is WiFi in most places, especially at home and at work. I have recently noticed that most of the devices connected to WiFi are not laptops but iPad type things and hand held games consoles.

          I recently fixed a laptop by wiping the HD and putting Windows back on. No need to save any data what so ever, everything this person does is online. In effect he is using his laptop as if it were an iPad.

          I do share your concerns about this happening but I have thought for many years that this is the way it would go. For example people used to believe that the faster their Internet became the faster they could download stuff to their hard drive. Indeed this was the case, hard drives got bigger and people managed to fill them with crap from the Internet. Once the Internet is as fast as your hard drive then what's the point of the HD? Obviously that's a long way off but the Internet is already as fast as a hard drive for looking at web pages, if you save web pages on your hard drive, they won't come up any quicker off your hard drive, well not enough to make any difference. The same with music, it plays perfectly fast enough by streaming.

          The only thing you might need to save would be the URL or Title of the content.

      2. Oninoshiko

        Youtubes bussness model was doomed

        Unless their model was to be a money sink for google. they just MIGHT have started to become profitable last year. That would be after google put all that money running it in the red since they bought it. It always was a waste of time and a money sink for google, it still mostly is.

        Now I'm going back to watching cats run into walls.

    3. RegisterThis
      WTF?

      Trolls not just IN the forums ...

      ... but posting articles for El Reg!

    4. RegisterThis
      Thumb Up

      and ...

      "Personally I still want a local nas, using online stuff only as sync, if only as a backup of the cloud."

      Exactly. No consumer cloud provides any decent kind of guarantee for your data or availbility of the service and until such time as that can happen, I certainly will not rely on cloud (if ever). Backup, Sync, share etc., but NEVER my primary source of MY data.

      By the way, I do wonder when 'personal cloud' (like pogoplug) will start to take off? Ultimately 'cloud' just makes me outsource my storage - and frankly, the consumer cost savings are minimal compared to the enterprise savings of virtualised storage, SaaS, processing power on demand etc. What I want is uniquitous access to my data at my house (and maybe backed up into the cloud)!

    5. jai

      not apple fanboyism

      even the most zealotous of us fanboys also view this article with contempt. If it was a comment post, i'd say it was from a penguin bothering troll.

      The iCloud isn't going to take all of our data from our laptops and desktop machines and thus remove the need for hard disks.

      At best, it's going to facilitate easy movement of data from the hard disks attached to my iMac, across to the disk in my MacBook and the flash drives in my iPad and iPhone.

      Apple aren't providing me we 4TB of space to hold all my music, apps, books, pictures, movies and tv shows. But for holding onto those media files for long term (only 1000 photos are only held online for 30 days, other data files aren't catered for), I'm going to have to do it outside of the cloud, and for that I'll still need external hard drives.

    6. Is it me?

      I won't be flocking anywhere

      Thanks Steve, but I want to know, and control where my data goes, certainly not to US servers subject to the Patriot act with access dictated by Apple. I like my data in my personal NAS and loaded to my iPhone & iPod (I have an Air as well) as I see fit.

      Spinning rust will not disappear until flash is cheap enough and reliable enough to provide large data stores, until then, even iCloud will require it as a storage medium.

      Sadly, as is often the case in IT the proponents of this model actually believe they speak the truth, because they can't cope with more than one technical solution at a time.

      1. DZ-Jay

        @Is it me?

        Then you'll be very happy to know that the iCloud service is not only *optional*, but is only there to *sync* up your devices--not necessarily to store your stuff. Therefore, it is mostly a conduit for those who want that service.

        Feel free to use over-the-air, peer-to-peer syncing using Wi-Fi, which is another feature announced for the next version of iOS and Mac OS X.

        I don't think it's appropriate to judge Apple's strategy in the same light as Google's or Amazon's. The vision of the latter two is to store all information and grant streaming or on-demand access to users through web interfaces.

        Really, you guys should pay a bit more attention at what's actually been announced.

        -dZ.

        1. Daniel B.

          @DZ-Jay

          Of course iCloud is optional, in fact it has an added cost so it isn't like someone's forcing you to use it. Most of the responses are actually dealing with the tone of the article, which states that HDDs are dead because PCs are dead because iToys can now sync w/o a PC or Mac. That assumes not only that all iToy owners subscribe to iCloud, but that everyone has an iToy, which isn't the case in the real world.

          It's like that other claim that Apple's iMac was the death knell for the floppy disk. No it wasn't... it died when USB flash drives became cheap enough to take over them.

        2. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge
          Coat

          Optional?

          It's optional for us. We understand the implications of the options offered by Apple. However the normal user loves stuff which is cool, inexpensive and convenient. This always on data sync'ing will be a massive hit if it works well and does not become a joke like Sony's servers.

          The outcome of this will be that government regulation of personal data becomes possible and then essential for our safety. Apple wanting to stay on the right side of decency will impose tougher rules than the law requires.

          I know I left my old Nokia in here somewhere.

    7. big_D Silver badge

      Agree

      Totally agree. And what am I supposed to do with 5GB? An afternoon of photography consumes 8GB, good, I could add the photos to my "stream" for the next 30 days, but where would they go after that?

    8. NomNomNom

      no

      i dont see what the price of a movie has to do with streaming, although if you are paying £10.80 a movie you are getting ripped off

      1. Doug Glass
        Go

        1090p

        Surely you jest!

  7. telstar
    Meh

    But surely...

    ...surely the hardware that provides all those services are going to require hard drives and hard disk manufacturers will step in to fill that requirement?

  8. kissingthecarpet
    Meh

    No offline backups then?

    I presume this article is meant to be ironic...or something

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    About time

    This was the reason I bought an Android phone: I don't want to have to sync my phone by a cable to a PC! Why should I when my phone has an internet connection, 1GHz processor, 512MB memory and a Linux Kernel?!

  10. TeeCee Gold badge
    WTF?

    Except of course....

    ....every gigabyte of whatever that's no longer held on spinning rust in the user's PC will be held on spinning rust in a cloud service.

    So the cheap consumer commodity hard disk business dies off and the humungo-markup enterprise hard disk business grows like topsy. What's not to like there for the HDD makers?

    Also, in that world, nobody's going to drop their rust en masse for flash. They're far more likely to go for a tiered approach dependant on access requirements with flash reserved for indexing, cacheing and such. Nobody needs the access speeds of flash to pipe the raw user crud over the Internet.......

  11. OS

    Shifting demand

    The demand for hard drives will simply shift from the consumer side to the enterprise side as an ever increasing shift in cloud computing will require massive investment in data center storage. Data has to be stored somewhere. Only difference is, now it will stored in massive data centers instead of user's desktops. Combine that with requirements of geographic mirroring, backups, redundancy for uptime SLAs and what not. And flash isn't going to be cheap enough or reliable enough to handle this workload. So the hard drives are here to stay.

  12. Marvin the Martian
    Paris Hilton

    Presumeably the iCloud stores the data somewhere? Or is it all RAM-only with tape backups?

    So instead of dealing with pesky individual customers bloviating online about relative reliability of HDs (based on one HD in their life crashing) and thus damaging your reputation, SeagateWDToshiba can deal with the big boys -- amazon, apple, google, ibm; whoever runs a cloud -- and supply them with bulk orders. Not really their demise.

    Tho spinning ickle disks may be out eventually in favour of NAND flash.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ummm

      because the data transfer rate via cable is still much faster than wireless?

      Just sayin'

      1. Thomas Davie
        Stop

        Not really

        When you consider the consumer space. Current consumer wired networking will get you 100Mb/s in theory, and about 80Mb/s in practice. Current consumer wireless networking will get you 300-600Mb/s in theory and about 150Mb/s in practice.

        1. Yag
          Trollface

          100Mb/s?

          Perhaps you can even get back to RS232 while you're at it...

        2. Captain Underpants
          Alert

          150Mb/s in practice sounds a bit optimistic

          150Mb/s in practice for consumer wireless? Most consumer wireless kit I've seen still seems to be in the 50-200 Mb/s In Theory region. Sure, there's higher-end gear available, but I wouldn't have expected it to be widely used (and, let's be honest, until ISPs start bundling such gear with new connections or upgrades, it won't be).

          Even allowing for wireless kit that gives 150Mb/s in practice, if you're using said wireless connectivity to retrieve data from a non-local network bound resource, you're stuffed in terms of being anywhere close to as fast as syncing via cable to a local terminal with the data you want.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Holmes

          WTF?

          You get 150Mb/s over 3g? Or even ADSL?

          Until I can have 1TB of cloud storage for a ONE OFF fee of about £50, and I can send data to and from it at speeds of about 40Mbps without impacting my TV, web browsing, or other internet based activity, I am not interested.

          Local storage is not the most flexible of resources; yes I cant easily access it while I am out and about, but it is fast, cheap and plentiful.

        4. The Alpha Klutz

          "about 150Mb/s in practice"

          Yup, if you have the laptop half an inch away from the router inside a Faraday cage in a specially tuned room and the crystal ball on your Ouija board is reporting increased vampire activity in the vicinity of your burial vault.

          150 megs my ass!

        5. Keris

          100Mbps? You're behind the times.

          "Current consumer wired networking will get you 100Mb/s in theory"

          Try an order of magnitude higher, unless Windoze or Apple have limited it. Gigabit routers are the norm these days for wired networks, I've actually see 100Mbps routers priced higher (because few people want them), and most PCs have Gigabit ports on the motherboard.

          I typically get 100 megabytes per second access to my remote disks (and could go a tad higher as far as the network is concerned, but the disks top out at around that anyway) over my wired network (Cat5, still the same as I installed for 100Mb working many years ago). I don't know any wireless solution available to the public which has that sort of bandwidth (you'd have to go to at least X band to get enough bandwidth for one such link).

          No, wired is still a lot faster. Unless you have something like an iPad which doesn't have the capability...

          1. Nigel 11
            Thumb Up

            And ...

            I can't resist adding, Cat-5e clipped to the skirting boards like phone cable works just fine at gigabit speed. Maybe the tight bends around corners are out of spec, but the cable runs are unlikely to be more than 20m in a house, and the standard allows for ninety-plus.

          2. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
            Paris Hilton

            Tin foil suit

            100 megabytes in the (shielded) wires sounds fine to me, but 100 megabytes over a wireless, add a parity and a check bit and a few more bits for the protocol layers that sounds like a frequency around 1GhZ, that’s halfway to microwave energy, will I be able to warm pizza by placing it between the antenna of my router? Will I have to wear a tin foil suit to sit near the router so that my little programmers don’t get cooked?

            At least I can keep my beer cool with the fans I will have to install to keep my HDDs cool

            Paris, who has been known to heat up an antenna or two in her lifetime

        6. Daniel B.

          150Mb/s? Where?

          You should really see my g WiFi over here. Sometimes it gets knocked down to 18Mbps, which is probably competing with 10BaseT or 802.11b at most.

          Wired kit, even the cheapest kit, will always be faster than wireless.

        7. JEDIDIAH
          Linux

          Not really... not really.

          You're numbers are bizarre.

          Consumer wired networking is 1000mb/s. Even cheap crappy systems have GigE now and the associated switch gear is cheap.

          A wired NAS can easily do 80MB/sec or more.

          Wireless in general is a big problem. It's a mess in general. Slow. Insecure. Difficult to deal with.

          Once you get into this "Cloud" thing forget about it. Minutes quickly turn into hours or even days.

    2. DZ-Jay

      @Marvin the Martian

      The back-ups must be be in RAM also. Tape is dead, remember?

      -dZ.

      1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

        No - BOFH #1

        "It's backup day today so I'm pissed off. Being the BOFH, however, does have it's advantages. I reassign /dev/null to be the tape device - it's so much more economical on my time as I don't have to keep getting up to change tapes every 5 minutes. And it speeds up backups too, so it can't be all bad can it? Of course not."

        I think we need a BOFH icon

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          then they'd have to pay Simon every time someone used it

          I'm not sure he would mind...

    3. Hayden Clark
      Meh

      Bulk cloud storage has much lower margins

      1) Because any big cloud operator will be calling off drives from a huge contract, and so will pay much less than retail, and

      2) You and I have lots of wasted space on our drives. So we have paid for much more than we need. The cloud provider over-sells his capacity, and only stuffs more drives in his arrays when the increase in usage pushes the utilisation beyond what's safe.

    4. Nigel 11
      Thumb Down

      Spinning rust?

      Must have been two decades ago that ferric oxide was obsoleted.

      Even in 2001 they were using a high-tech coating of rare magnetic alloys sprinkled with three atomic thicknesses of pixie dust. (Google IBM "pixie dust" if you don't believe me)

    5. david wilson

      @kissingthecarpet

      >>"I presume this article is meant to be ironic"

      I'm not even sure it was meant to be an /article/.

  13. The Alpha Klutz

    Western Digital still have my business

    I run my own NAS box. It's like a cloud, but better, because it resides in the same country as I do and so my data is not mysteriously subject to a different set of laws than I am. It also allows me to slot in an extra couple of TB whenever I want at very marginal cost with no silly subscription fees to pay. Just as long as I can afford to pay the electricity, the data is there.

    Only problem is, I have exactly 0% need for any kind of "cloud". If the data isn't important enough for me to make a conscious effort to carry it around, then it is not worth having with me anyway. QED. I don't take the fucking toilet brush with me when I go to work do I (actually I do, just kidding). Is nothing sacred?

  14. Frederic Bloggs
    Alien

    Am I just an old fogey?

    Or will the sound of the iCloud (or whatever it's called) crashing in a few years time signal the end of Western Civilisation, India and China all in one go? Then there will be the legislation enacted next year by all major governments giving themselves unfettered access to the data (with the US Government first in line, with priority access).

    Oh and *what* a juicy target for the ungodly!

  15. dave 46
    Facepalm

    Cloud storage?

    What are cloud drives made from - clouds?

    I see it as a big plus for the fixed disk manufacturers, demand for enterprise storage is rising faster than in decades and we still need a desktop or laptop for most of what we do with computers.

    It may end up being a smaller SSD, but that's got nothing to do with the cloud and everything to do with new tech. WD et al should get into making SSDs if they don't want their consumer market (and even high end enterprise market) walking away from them.

  16. Llyander
    FAIL

    Citation Needed!

    I'm sorry but what?

    I really am struggling to following the reasoning behind this article.

    "Windows must follow suit, embracing what Apple is calling the post-PC era, not wanting to lag behind in the ease of use stakes. Thus, consumers won't buy so many PCs,"

    Based on what, exactly? I don't recall seeing any figures backing this up. I own a tablet, and a netbook, and a desktop PC. Neither the netbook nor the tablet nor, for that matter, my phone is in any way an acceptable substitute for a proper PC.

    Are you saying that people are going to stop buying PCs because they can store all their data on the cloud? Really? Considering the restrictions most British ISPs put on bandwidth, I fail to see this being a reliable or acceptable substitute for locally stored data. Given the Amazon cloud outage, which lead to some folks data being lost without hope of recovery, are you honestly trying to say this is an outcome people will want or embrace?

    And what about gaming? While I am aware OnLive is attempting to punt a streaming games solution, many of us have no interest in that, and certainly refuse to pay a subscription to access their content, are you saying that the cloud is a viable solution for gamers?

    Nope, sorry. Utter nonsense from start to finish. The only part of it I DID agree with was your comment about the uptake of flash drives compared to platters, the rest is just pie in the sky nonsense with nothing to back it up.

  17. Law Device

    really?

    What will this data be stored on in the cloud then? cotton wool?

    Drives will still be needed, they'll just be in a different location.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Change happens

    It's not so much that Steve and Apple are single-handledly foisting change on the whole industry, but that Apple is the most likely company to leap toward change first. You could also argue that Apple destroyed the floppy drive industry. But it was more a case that technology had marched inexorably forward and Steve was the first to bring down the axe (and what an uproar that caused).

  19. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Seriously!

    I really expect to see everyone who has from several hundred Gigabytes to several Terabytes of media, to instantly transfer everything to the cloud. Not!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Disk drives doomed?

    No. I, for one, will not be welcoming the onslaught of the physical storage medium but a bunch of unconscionable corporate overlords. For me, at least, high storage capacity is a must on any device. Sod the cloud, I will not have my data beholden to the interests and whims of anyone but myself and I would hope that there are many others like me who are intensely cynical of the so called benefits of cloud computing.

  21. X102

    What on earth?

    What exactly does the Word of Jobs have to do with the fact that traditional HDD's have been in decline for longer than Jobs has been playing with tablets (of the computing variety at least).

    It's pointless articles like this; that marry known facts to Job's rain-making, that bring a little tear to my eye. El Reg - you should know better.

  22. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Down

    Was that Irony, trollling, or what?

    While spinny disks may face competition from SSDs, that is merely a change in the underlying technology used for bulk storage. Indeed, the advent of large, cheap and, most significantly, *fast* SSDs will be more likely to save the "desktop" PC then herald its demise.

    The problems with the "cloud" are manifold. Speed is a big issue. Even if you have a 20MB broadband service (that actually delivers that speed), then placing and retrieving files from the cloud is several orders of magnitude slower than doing the same from a local HD (particularly if its an SSD). Then there's the availability of a connection. It may work fine on your home broadband, but what about on the train? No such problem accessing files on your laptop HD . Cost is also a consideration. How much is cloud storage going to cost in mobile broadband and PAYG wi-fi fees, not to mention the cost of storage itself.

    Oh, and lets not forget that the iCloud is going to be for iThings, only (well, apart from Windows PCs). Work colleague has an Android tablet? Blackberry? Want him to access your proposal on the iCloud? Forget it.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Doesn't the cloud also use HDDs?

    Isn't this all about moving said HDDs from people's homes to distributed datacentres?

    Sure, some reduction will be achieved due to better utilisation, and the HDD manufacturers may loose money by having to sell larger volumes at lower profit margins to bigger players, but surely it's a bit soon to be ringing the death bell for HDDs?

    My 2 pence

    1. frank ly
      Happy

      Dropbox....

      2GB of cloudy storage for free, synced to all your local computing devices and it has a 'Public' folder, from which you can give links to people for individual files. Apply your own encryption for confidential stuff, obviously.

      1. Fr Barry

        Ownership

        I still have an innate fear of giving all my data to somebody else to look after on terms and conditions they can change whenever they want http://www.geek.com/articles/news/ftc-complaint-says-dropbox-lied-about-data-security-20110516/

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Go

      Cloud uses

      My NAS supports off-site backup to Amazon's cloud (AWS) - useful should there be a house fire or someone tried to steal all of my equipment. Alas, there's no support for an encrypted backup.

      When we all have 1Gb/s to our homes and 10Mb/s to our phones, I think Steve Jobs and the other could advocates will be right - no HDDs require, not even DVDs/BluRay disks - until then...

    3. Nigel 11
      Thumb Down

      De-duplication

      For music, movies etc. The hard disk model is one copy per consumer stored on the consumer's HD. The cloud model is a few copies stored on cloud servers and transmitted to the consumer on demand.

      Cloud makes sense (a) for commercially sold read-only media, (b) if there's sufficient cheap network bandwidth, and (c) if the consumer trusts that the cloud entities won't ever revoke or lose their rights to view or listen to their purchases (i.e. how much do you trust Sony?). From a HD manufacturer's perspective it may well take a big bite out of their market.

      I don't think it'll be very long before a typical PC or equivalent has an SSD (probably built onto the mainboard) and no HD. Storage options beyond a few GB on the SSD will be burn to DVD, copy to own USB HD or USB memory-stick, backup or copy to cloud.

      the market for HDs is going to mature and go into long-term decline. They won't disappear in the next few decades, but HD manufacture is not going to remain a growth industry. Not unlike tape, really. Sure that the HD manufacturers have worked this out. IBM did so ahead of the pack, and sold to HGST, in what was regarded as a strange move at the time. Now HGST wants out.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      Yup - me too

      Clouds have FAR too fluffy edges re. privacy and ownership for me to use them - and that includes private use. The brainwashing didn't work for me, I still appreciate my privacy..

    5. adnim Silver badge

      There's at least one

      I will never use cloud based storage for anything of any value. If I was guaranteed 100% availability, 100% reliability and the systems, that's the hardware and software, were 100% secure.

      There is a human involved somewhere, hardly infallible are humans. Some of them are greedy for possessions and money, some get into debt, some do naughty things that leave them open to blackmail.

      Basically human integrity can be bought. Each person has his price.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Almost 5 months

      Using the lousy 1 Meg upload Virgin Media has kindly allowed me to have it would take almost 5 months or uninterrupted 24/7 connectivity to move my computers contents into the cloud.

      Luckily I have absolutely no plans to give my data to Jobs or any other privacy flouting mega corp.

      1. Zack Mollusc

        Luxury!

        1 Meg upload? Branston only provides me with 51k.

    7. DZ-Jay

      @Eponymous Cowherd

      >> "The problems with the "cloud" are manifold. Speed is a big issue. Even if you have a 20MB broadband service (that actually delivers that speed), then placing and retrieving files from the cloud is several orders of magnitude slower than doing the same from a local HD (particularly if its an SSD). Then there's the availability of a connection. It may work fine on your home broadband, but what about on the train?"

      The problems with the "cloud" may indeed be manifold, but it is not fair to attribute them to iCloud, for it does not really follow the conventional "cloud" service others have been touting.

      For instance, iCloud is going to *sync* your devices, not necessarily store your stuff for you. As per your example, presumably you'll have little reason to sync while on the train. When you are unable to connect to the network, your devices will still work with whatever local content was sync'ed before.

      Nothing has changed in that regard, only the way to sync has been moved from a tethered connection to a PC to a wireless background process with the iCloud back-end.

      -dZ.

      1. Rattus Rattus

        @DZ-Jay

        So iCloud has reinvented Dropbox then? Is Apple's next move going to be suing Dropbox, claiming Apple invented it first?

    8. Hayden Clark
      Big Brother

      Non-infringing use

      Ok, so what is the non-infringing use of local storage?

      CDs? iCloud has that covered.

      DVDs? oooh, you had to break the encryption, not allowed!

      Ok, that's two major chunks of requirement gone, so what now?

      Ah, you take photographs. And Videos. Hmm, what possible reason could you have for not wanting the State to keep an eye on them for you, hmm? Nothing to hide, nothing to fear!

      So, the only reason you want large amounts of local storage is to keep your pirate music and films collection, and to hide your dirty, possibly illegal photographs!

      Cheaper? Soon you'll need a license for a home hard drive!

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Fanboy silliness.

        If it's my DVD then it's my personal property, period.

        That said. It's plenty easy to fill up hard drives with your own still photos and high res video.

        They sell consumer cameras that record in the same format that BluRay uses. So the idea that an individual can't "legally" have hundreds of Gigs or even Terabytes of storage is simply bogus.

        Even my "small personal media files" will choke a cablemodem or 3G connection. Cloud storage is just not cost effective and the network is crap. There's a middle man everywhere trying to extract money from you like some sort of bridge troll.

        iCloud is a solution for lame devices that should be less lame.

    9. Oninoshiko
      FAIL

      no, it's better then that

      It's about syncing data between home PC and other devices. HD manufacturers are downright salivating over this... they sell you one in your PC, the sell apple one for iCloud, the sell another (10) in the flash for your iDevice(s).

      it's like printing money, Chris Mellor could only be more wrong if he said it harolds a new coming of Xenu.

    10. ian 22
      Pirate

      They'll have to...

      ...pry my disk drives from my cold, dead, fingers.

  24. James Hughes 1

    Hmmmm

    Hard drive speed 100MBytes/s. Probably.

    Most ADSL connections, 8Mbits/second download, 1MBit/s upload. Sometimes.

    Anyone fancy syncing their photo collection at those sorts of speeds?

    Nah, didnt think so.

    Until conections to the net catch up there will always be a need for local storage, and HD are the cheapest way of doing it.

  25. dotdavid
    Holmes

    Maybe all local storage

    I must admit that since using Spotify for my mobile music needs I've not bothered to replace the paltry 4GB micro SD card in my phone. Why bother, I can cache a few albums, stream any I forgot to cache, and replace the cached albums quickly?

    Extrapolating from that, maybe it won't be long before not much local storage is needed at all if it is all in "the cloud".

  26. Pete 2

    Short answer: no

    Let's summarise: The figurehead (retired) of a niche electronics firm has decided that one of their applications won't need users to have a PC any more.

    What does that mean for the 90-something percent of ordinary folk who don't use their products? Answer: not a single dam' thing. The key to this answer is to realise that just because Apple is a "noisy" marketer -- the amount of publicity they produce is disproportionate to the number of units they sell -- doesn't mean they affect the lives of most computer users.

  27. VespertineStar
    Childcatcher

    And what will the iCloud run on?

    Sure the consumer disk industry is probably on its way out but someone has got to buy hard drives to store that data on at some point whether it be the customers or Apple/Microsoft etc. Besides, spinning disks have been on their way out for some time now even in PCs and laptops. Much like they always do, Apple have seen a situation at tipping point, pushed everyone over the edge that was waiting patiently and then claimed they were the ones to "revolutionise" the industry; once again taking away all the kudos from the people who actually did the work to get them there in the first place.

  28. Captain Underpants
    Thumb Down

    Contrary to popular belief, the Fruity Ones don't control all human behaviour...

    As far as I can tell, this article is basically saying "Because Apple says so, everyone will shove *all their stuff* on the cloud and stop having local copies or backups of anything".

    That seems a bit suspect to me

  29. BryanM
    FAIL

    Disk going the same way as tape?

    You mean hanging around and going nowhere fast??

  30. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Hmm...

    Surely a decline in the consumer storage market will be at least partially balanced out by increased demand from data centres storing all the 'cloudy stuff'?

  31. Dominic Cioccarelli
    Boffin

    Desktop harddrive maybe...

    Whilst it is true that there maybe a decline in sales of desktop hard drives, don't forget that these same three hard disk manufacturers also build the hard drives that go into servers and storage devices. With more people untethering their mobile devices from their desktops, they will be increasing their reliance on "cloud storage". A cloud may sound very abstract, but concretely the data bust be "stored" somewhere, and this somewhere is a hard disk.

    I would think that the hard drive manufacturers will simply see a shift in where their technology is used.

    Cheers,

    Dom.

  32. pixie lott's g-string
    Stop

    confusion......

    so more people store on the cloud - which are just servers somewhere - which use hard discs - which they will need more of - which are sold by the companies that you mention......how are they losing out?

  33. John F***ing Stepp

    Sadly

    In some alternate world, personal computers were developed. In ours of course, the constant advancement of dumb terminals eventually led to this thing we now call Cloud Computing.

    Yes, I know, it is the stuff of purple prose and lurid Science Fiction but I often wonder what we could have done if we all had a personal computer.

    And that was John Stepp reporting from Steve Jobs mind. (30)

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MobileMe

    Actually, anyone with a 3GS (the best iPhone) who signed up to MobileMe for the excellent 'Find my Phone' service (the only reason to sign up), will probably not be happy about losing it?

  35. BristolBachelor Gold badge
    WTF?

    Verity or Troll?

    This is a Troll article right?

    So when my misses has her >50GB of RAW files from her camera (each day!), where does she put them? I think it would take days to upload them with our available internet connection. Then she has to edit them on an iPad over Wi-Fi? Riiiight

    And if they are stored on "the cloud", what are they stored on exactly? If they really are stored on vapour, I can see how that would be bad for the HDD industry, but I expect them to be stored on HDDs. Since "Tape is Dead" [sic] there will need to be multiple copies of the files on multiple disks, needing even more disks.

    I'm sure it will happen eventually in the future, but I'm not holding my breath.

    1. Captain Underpants
      Thumb Down

      You haven't really thought this through, have you?

      Right. So you'd be happy doing the same thing with movies, would you? Oh, wait, there's no film equivalent of Spotify. Oh, wait, the bandwidth involved in streaming films is punishing when compared to the standards imposed by most ISPs (especially if you're including mobile telcos in that equation). And that's before we get to games - I'm far from a hardcore gamer but the last 4 games I bought on steam were 26GB of downloads between 'em (Portal 2, Arkham Asylum, Far Cry 1 & 2) - fancy streaming that each time you want to play?

      What's that, you say? You're in the boonies and there's no signal, and the only place you can get network access is a hotel charging you through the nose for a share of a crappy highly-contented 1MB/s line? Sucks to be you.

      There may be certain areas where the need for local spinning-platter storage is diminishing, but to extrapolate from there to all other areas is the reasoning of a five-star numpty.

    2. Solomon Grundy

      Professional Need

      I agree. For the huge consumer market that doesn't do anything with their PC other than games, movies, music and porn there is probably a lot of truth in this article. It doesn't apply to people who actually use their PC's though. Software developers writing, debugging, and compiling code in the cloud; nope. Graphic designers and photograhpers editing images in the cloud; nope. Engineers building huge CAD models in the cloud; nope. The list goes on.

    3. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Racing the turtles...

      > Most ADSL connections, 8Mbits/second download, 1MBit/s upload. Sometimes.

      >

      > Anyone fancy syncing their photo collection at those sorts of speeds?

      I was playing around with Amazon's service. I have a cable modem service that's very assymetrical and I spend a little more than a day pushing my personal music files up to Amazon. My collection is not that big, only about 16G.

      In the same amount of time, I can push about 1.5TB around my local network.

  36. Dan Atkinson 1

    No, they need to stop living in PC's

    Home PC users are creating and obtaining vast amounts of data through photos and videos that need somewhere to live. Broadband infrastructure is going to be in a speed rut for some time to come yet. The disk manufacturers need to get out the shadows and start producing very, very simple appliances that can be accessed by WiFi in seconds and back themselves up totally painlessly. But yeah, long term I think they can wave bye bye to most of their markets.

  37. Chris Dupont

    Casts 'Disbelieve'

    The death of the PC has been predicted for the last decade, often by those who stand most to gain by depicting it as a lumber luxury. It's a shame that the interesting idea of the cloud as a central synchronisation point is buried inside such obvious brand-based propaganda.

  38. Andy E
    Coat

    Inevitable

    I think the end of the consumer hard disk drive is inevitable and has probably been accelerated by Apples iPad. However, people rushing to put all of their data on the Cloud is a worrying trend. The companies offering Cloud services to consumers make no significant promises on the security and availability of your data. People should read the Terms and Conditions of the Cloud suppliers. They will see that they are responsible for backing up their data. Just because it is "in the Cloud" does not mean it is going to be available tomorrow.

    The IT literate people will probably continue to use home based storage for their music, video, photo's etc. for the foreseeable future. The rest will push everything into the Cloud and scream very loudly when the service goes tits-up.

    Can I have my coat please as I need to see how my backups are going?

  39. Tim Brown 1
    Alert

    Another journalist adds question mark to headline when answer is "no", shock

    That is all.

  40. Caffeine Junkie
    FAIL

    what they said...

    I'm certainly not going to be storing hundreds of gigabytes of HD camcorder footage in the iCloud. Its bad enough streaming 25Mbps video from the PC upstairs to the TV, god knows what it would be like from the internet.

    People can predict the demise of the consumer HDD market as much as they want. I'd put my money on the weather predictions being more accurate than this.

    Just fail.

  41. Thomas 18
    Terminator

    PC = Control

    A PC is a powerhouse that you can do virtually anything with and at a moments notice can unplug from the rest of the world. You can program for a PC on a PC, you can upgrade bits of it, you can change its OS without any other hardware (except maybe a blank DVD).

    mobile phones and slates are no comparison. I could maybe see the death of the laptop but I really don't think cloud computing is going to kill the PC. It's just not how people think.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Or,

      they could develop disk drives you can simply plug into a USB port and use as if they are a big memory stick. What, they already have? And they are cheap? So the entire article was a bit silly, wasn't it?

      1. Hayden Clark
        Facepalm

        Assumption of competence

        I know several people for whom information on a PC is lost if the PC dies. They don't understand backups, and they don't really get data recovery - I've told one family that if they bring their PC round, I can get their photos off it, but I'm yet to see it.

        So, even if the Cloud is rubbish, it's probably better than many people have now!

  42. nematoad Silver badge
    FAIL

    And if...

    you are like me, on a slow connection and with a cap on your internet account? What to do, eh?

    Besides as a Linux user I agree with RMS in that I do not trust Apple, Microsoft, Google etc with my data. Should I blindly store my stuff on an unknown server in an unknown jurisdiction? I think not. "Warrant, what warrant?"

    Apple have a tendency to lock things down to the maximum possible degree, and if Mr. Jobs decides that what you are storing on your virtual partition does not meet his standards then what might happen. Do an Amazon and unilaterally delete said offending content?

    No, I do forsee the day coming when flash overtakes the hard drive as the main backing storage medium on PCs, but in a data centre, not for a long time, I think.

    I still believe in the "personal computer" aspect of my use of IT. If I have to switch from HDD to flash then so be it, but trust my data to the giant proprietory companies pushing the cloud, no.

  43. sandman

    End of the PC

    I suspect a lot of people (possibly the majority) will find that they really don't need a PC at home. From personal experience I doubt that a lot of people really need them at work either. However, someone is going to have to produce all that lovely content for the consumption devices, so perhaps there will be a smaller but higher value market for PCs (a generic term).

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The cloud won't replace hard disks until

    there is fast, reliable, cheap and unlimited broadband (mobile or fixed depending on the device) for all, including rural areas.

  45. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    Eh?

    So instead of everyone having a single hard disk that they keep their data on and buy a new one only when they replace their computer, Apple are going to need to buy several disks for everyone, in a highly-redundant configuration, with off-site backups and caching SSD's and content duplication for CDN, etc. plus spares and replacements because they are running 24/7 in order to serve them the same files.

    Yeah. That's going to REALLY hurt the hard disk industry if that takes off. What are they thinking?!

    (Sarcasm has now left the building).

    Putting your data only on the cloud is still a stupid idea no matter who's behind it.

  46. Big Bear

    Is it April Fools already?

    Funny article.

    Won't repeat ad nauseum the comments above about what iCloud stores stuff on, but the author seems to think that the be-all and end-all of storage is the consumer space. Strange that those little corporations suddenly don't matter - y'know, those ones who number their machines in the tens or hundreds of thousands on a constantly evolving upgrade cycle? Last I looked, Mac OS was growing smartly in consumer but not making much of a dent in corporate, and when I say "growing" I mean it is still a distant second in terms of installed base.

    Also, the author fails to note that one of the big problems with SSDs is their price, which will massive retard their take up until their £/GB approahes HDD levels. Of course, the big problem here is that the massive growth in smartphones and other media consumption devices, such as his precious iPhone and iPad, all rely on solid state, which means the classic "personal computer (including Mac)" cannot get their grubby mitts on the damn things to push for mass adoption.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    utter bollocks

    El Reg - you really need to rethink some of the (non)'stories' you publish. I find it hard to find the words to describe how ridiculous this article is.

    No doubt some Apple fanbois will want to use iCloud for everything they do - if they've got that little data.

    Other Apple users (myself included - though I am FAR from being a fanboi, and use Windows too), won't go anywhere near it, and will only ever trust their data to disks (be they in PCs, *nix boxes, NAS devices or home servers) that they have complete control over.

    Writing ridiculous, badly thought out, sensationalist articles based on the dronings of St.Steve is not journalism.

  48. Splatcat

    So who leaked

    the second memo saying the leaker of the first memo had been sacked

    I can see this running and running

  49. Fintan
    Facepalm

    OH For the love of jebus...

    Apple and Jobs finally discover the cloud, a technology that’s been around for years ( Hotmail anyone), and suddenly “it’s the end to the hard disk industry”.

    5GB storage is not going to kill the storage industry. Every other company offers much more storage space, 25GB on live I believe.

    This cloud service is good for apple, but seriously folks, just because apple finally joined the party doesn’t mean the end of anything!

    Its like saying that If jobs decides to eat cornflakes tomorrow, does that spell the end for rice crispies?

  50. hj

    Has Steve Jobs killed the consumer hard disk industry?

    Only if you have nice new iMac, because Apple in all its wisdom decided you can not replace your HDD with any other and put on some proprietary connector... (the rest of the article is just such bullsh!t that i do not know where to begin (and luckily others already have pointed thart out))

  51. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    No. Next Question

    Explanation.

    Until the capacity, price and longevity of SSD's can match that of rotating media then no he hasn't.

    No one has.

    What PC manufacturer has declared that they are not going to use rotating media any more? None.

    When do the Analystists predict that Flash (of whatever sort) will reach the same price per GB as current rotating media? 3-5 years.

    Will the mix of storage used in the home change in the near term (1-2 years)? Yes it will.

    One example:- More people will have centralised storage that is used for media streaming all around their home. Some of the NAS devices already on sale have pretty well all this functionality already. Add the ability to record over the air or internet with remote control etc then you have a device that can replace a whole load of current HDD's.

    Then there is the other thorny question. Cloud Reliability & Cost.

    What happens when your cloud supplier (whoever they might be) has an outage and loses your data? What guarantees do you have that they won't lose it? What guarantees do you have that it won't be hacked and your precious wedding pictures/video being replaced with a load of pron?

    Then if you stop paying for your particular bit of the cloud then what happens to the data? It gets deleted. This can easily happen. Little things like expired credit cards can cause you to lose everything. Is that acceptable to the ordinary man in the street? I think not.

    1. me n u
      Happy

      @fintan

      "Its like saying that If jobs decides to eat cornflakes tomorrow, does that spell the end for rice crispies?"

      No, it means the end of all the rice crops around the world! Conversely, buy corn futures!

  52. Dark Horse

    PVRs? IDTVs?

    There will always be needs for HDDs.

    Just because mobile applications are going cloudy, and maybe documents too, don't forget that there are other uses for HDDs.

    More and more TVs and STBs (Freesat+, Sky+, Virgin with TiVo, etc) are being built with internal hard-drives for recording purposes.... and I'm guessing a lot more people have TVs than PCs...

  53. Winkypop Silver badge
    Devil

    Every cloud....

    ....has a vulnerable lining.

    Just saying.

  54. BlackBart2012
    FAIL

    The Cloud will NEVER replace hard disks!

    So let me get this straight... Microsoft came up with SkyDrive, and then Apple came up with ICloud. Is that right? Each is online storage, where someone else can have access to your personal private data, and you can only have 5 Gb on there, as opposed to having complete privacy and up to 2 Tb of disk space on hard drives, and SkyDrive or Cloud is better? Will someone please give me a 500 word essay as to explain why it is better?

    This is the stupidest article that I have ever read!

  55. JohnG

    Defective memory

    If everyone had defective memory, then I guess they would all have forgotten about the various problems a few years ago with data lost by people using online disk/backup companies which went bankrupt. Any online storage, whether cloudy or not, relies on the company operating the service to remain in business and to maintain the service. If they get bored with it and move onto the next big thing, those who chose to keep control of their own data may have the last laugh.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    So you really believe in the tooth fairy....not

    iCloud....iPad.....iPhone......I can just see all the little plebs lining up to dis the HDD's and use uncle steves' latest vision...

    Wonder how loud the screaming is going to be when the iPlebs have to pass the iCashregister on the way to their not owned data in the iCloud of the future....

    you lot bought into the 'i' bullshit...just wait till it starts costing you even more than it does now to suck up to the iGod...

    Ha Ha, your all Steve's bitches now..... Apple, just another word for losers.

  57. Mage Silver badge

    iClouf and Google Docs

    So called Cloud computing is the mainframe and terminal by another name.

    The people who need PC or Laptop to do the kind of work they always did that wasn't media consumption, email and web browsing need to store specialist applications and data.

    The "Cloudy" folk don't want your data. They want to be your application provider and then the Cloud Admins really own your data.

    Back to the Central control of Mainframe era where someone else decides what applications you can have.

    Also back to 1980s network speeds. Most people's cloud uplink speed is less than 0.5Mbps. Pretty like a single shared10Mbps cheaper-net / coax hub based network in a medium office with no switches, only hubs. Except with worse reliability and latency.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Deja Vu

    Over 50 years ago, I recall my management telling me that there was no future in making batteries!

    Nothing changes

  59. Mage Silver badge

    PVRs

    The ideal PVR records EVERY channel for rolling 7 days... Browse entire EPG from now till a week ago and watch or "save".

    About 0.3 Tbyte per channel. More for HD.

    1T byte and larger are common now in PVRs.

    IPTV? Only as a Pay TV service from your ISP. Real HD in real time over the Public Internet isn't feasible, costs about 10,000 more than Terrestrial broadcast.

    FTA TV at Broadcast & HD quality will only be Broadcast. Until there is true Broadcast IP (which can't by definition be VOD) on Fibre over Public Internet, real TV on "Broadband" will be only from your ISP. And cost a lot more than FTA satellite or DTT.

  60. ad47uk
    Thumb Down

    i DON'T THINK SO

    Well not for a fair few years. i do a fair bit of video editing, how am I goiong to work on Hi-Def video clips if they are stored on the cloud and how long will it take to upload a 2gb or more clip onto the cloud at my 3megabits connection speed?

    Spinning disk drives are coming to the end now, but again it will be a good 2 to 3 years before they vanish, because solid state drives are still expensive and still too low a capacity

    there are also people who will never trust the cloud be it Icloud or another other with their data.

    Maybe in the next 10 years or so, people may start using services like Icloud more, I use drop box for some stuff, but only stuff that is not that important.

  61. Ru
    Facepalm

    The article talks about *consumer* harddrives

    Your average consumer does not need terabytes of space. Hell, as the iPad has shown, plenty of people don't even need a *physical keyboard*.

    There will always be a need for workstation-type things for people who actually work using computers rather than just use them as a slightly dumb replacement secretary. These people are not average consumers. You need to store and process hundreds of gigabytes of photo of video data? You are not an average consumer. Most people don't own dSLRs or HD digital video recorders.

    The server and workstation market for drives won't go away, and the article did not imply it would. Have a think about what might happen to the price of harddrives when the consumer market starts to shrink, though.

    1. Chris Harrison
      FAIL

      Wrong way around

      A few years back loads of people had PCs and had almost no data on them at all. Now days people use more and more space - even AVERAGE users as you call them. I mean, why specify dSLRs specifically? Do other digital cameras not require hard disk space?

      How many pc users do you think there are who don't fill their hard drives with photos, videos, and music these days? Data consumption and storage is rising fast not dropping.

      For most people the cloud may be a handy way to share data but for day to day storage? Forget it. The future of personal storage is surely all about size. Once I can get a memory stick with 1tb for £10, why the hell would I want to pay to store my data on someone elses drive?

  62. Risky
    Thumb Down

    iWhy

    Could storage is useful, sure but I don't like to give up control over what documents and data I have on which machine and so on. I have a WHS for backup and some of that is backed up to keepvault.

    As for the phone, there's never anything on there that isn't available somewhere else. I did like MSs myphone backup when I was on WM6.5, but I'm on Android these days.

  63. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Size matters sometimes

    Flash - 16GB

    HDD - 3TB.

    Flash is OK for music archives but get serious and have a few videos.

    Also flash wear will never cease to be a problem, look at the problems lots of people have with SSDs.

  64. Steve Ives
    Facepalm

    I think the Internet has killed of comprehension and individual thought...

    If you're asking 'where do I keep my 50Gb RAW files' or 'what about my 27Tb of media' and'How am I going to do my 3D rending on a phone?" then you're like a tractor manufacturer slating the Saart Car for not being able to deliver tractors. IT'S NOT AIMED AT YOU! It's for the casual user, who only has a few Gb of personal data and buys their music through iTunes.

    Jeez...

    Steve

    1. Alan Bourke

      Sure, it's not aimed at us ..

      ... 'us' being the sort of people who read El Reg. So people should stop writing articles supporting ridiculous blanket assertations such as 'the end of the PC'. It's the end of the PC for people who don't want to / can't faff with traditional devices.

      1. Volker Hett

        Us, too!

        I've moved most of my PC usage into the datacenter years ago with Citrix. Now with several virtualisation options I find myself working on a terminal server or virtual PC most of the time.

        My camera bag used to contain a portable 30GB harddrive, no I have an iPad.

        Yes, I know, walled garden and no USB and such, but somehow Canon has a plug in the 5D with which I can use it with the iPad and Adobe Lightroom has ways to import pictures from the iPad. Must be something awesome and magical :)

        That old Notebook is still good enough to work on my pictures and it is certainly good enough to remote access the computing power we have in a rack back in the company.

        Instead of a quad core I5 at home I have access to 16 Xeon cores with plenty of RAM somewhere in the cloud.

        Ok, not much somewhere, since it's what we call private cloud now I now exactly where the rack is :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          FAIL

          No you don't

          "Instead of a quad core I5 at home I have access to 16 Xeon cores with plenty of RAM somewhere in the cloud."

          No you don't, you have a share of your 16 Xeon cores, and a share of the RAM, depending on how many others wish to use it at the same time.

    2. JEDIDIAH
      Mushroom

      The cry of the fanboy

      > IT'S NOT AIMED AT YOU! It's for the casual user

      A 2 hour high res video in a modern format is 25G. That is a short vacation video.

      Are you trying to tell us that "only geeks" take vacation videos?

      "Normal people" have been making their own videos since the 60s.

  65. Taz Taziuk
    Facepalm

    All Hail the Return of the Mainframe!

    Except now it'll be Apple's and Microsoft's mainframe instead of IBM's.

    Oh, and don't forget you can't store your own CD/DVD rips on their DASD, errrrm, iCloudy-thingy.

    Bollocks to that.

  66. Andrew Duffin
    FAIL

    Nonsense on stilts

    Smartphones are easier to use than PC's?

    Gimme a break.

    And nobody needs local storage any more, because - as we all know - Internet connections everywhere are super-fast all the time and never break. Oh, and cloud suppliers are completely reliable, they never lose your data or get hacked into or cut you off for non-payment or for any other reason mistaken or otherwise. Ever.

    Whatever this guy's smoking, I don't want any of it.

    An Apple shill, nothing more.

    Absurd.

  67. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Put YOUR data on HIS cloud?

    Human stupidity knows no bounds...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      you can keep your Rolex at my house

      I'll let you wear it whenever you want, I promise!

  68. ClammyLammy

    In Other News...

    Steve Jobs wears black turtlenecks. All other sweaters now obsolete.

  69. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Let me know how you go...

    ...trying to fit terabytes of data on to your iThing.

  70. Jim 59

    Answers

    1. "Has Apple prophet Steve Jobs just foretold the end of the desktop hard drive?"

    No. Cloud services existed before he spoke.

    2. "Seagate, Toshiba and Western Digital. The spinning disk gang are fresh out of luck."

    You mean, apart from all the platters they will sell into the cloud biz?

    3. "Smart phones and tablets are much easier to use than PCs".

    Try leavng a comment this long using an iPad.

    4. "Thus, consumers won't buy so many PCs"

    Tablet and phone buyers will additionally buy a PC. Not all PC users will buy a tablet however.

    5. "...users will abandon their PCs"

    For a few minutes, until they have to create some content, ie. do some actual work.

    5. ".. the expected loss of the Fibre Channel disk business"

    Que ?

    6. "The disk troika need, really do need, to find themselves new sources of growth."

    Oh no! if they go bust, who will make all these new flash drives for us ?

  71. taxman
    Facepalm

    Wandering lonely as a Cloud

    What's with all this Cloud nonsense? Give me a good old data warehouse.

    Oh hang on, isn't that what a Cloud is? In which case book me a Cumulonimbus

  72. csn
    FAIL

    What!?

    This is the biggest load of drivel I have read for a long time.

  73. JarekG
    Facepalm

    So in other words..

    Apple - we take a turd, wrap it in nice silver package and call it invention*?

    *megaupload, 4shared, MediaFile, RapidUploads....and few other that have been doing this for a while.

    1. Volker Hett

      I agree in most points

      except point 3 and the first point 5 and I might be able to explain the second point 6.

      Point 3, not everyone is a "heavy user" not even a normal user. Managing contacts and appointments on a phone plus some surfing and messaging is easily done on a mobile.

      I know many people who "moved" from SMS to some sort of IM and handle their use of e-mail on a smartphone now.

      First point 5, they might not abandon what they have now, which is even worse for the industry, no need for a new one for a new operating system, the old one is just fine as it is.

      Second point 5, fibre channel disks are on their way out, too expensive. SAS and S-ATA are good enough, especially with the aid of some flash memory.

      And to your question who'll build the flash drives, have a look at the makers today! Sandisk, OZ, Kingston, Intel, Fusion-IO and so on, no platter vendor anywhere.

      1. Jim 59

        @Volker Hett

        Fair enough. We will have to disagree over tablets' ease of use. After owning one for a fortnight, I honestly can't think of any job that is not easier on a PC.

        What the article excitedly calls the "loss of the Fibre Channel disk business" is just technological improvement, not the death of an industry. The guys who made FC disks will just switch to SAS, they won't be losing any business.

  74. andy gibson

    Has Steve Jobs killed the consumer hard disk industry?

    Yes, just like the PC created the paperless office.

  75. Ilgaz

    MS did it.

    Isn't Windows Live Skydrive a similar thing and it is kinda... Old?

  76. teebie

    Poppycock

    The article seems to rely on the notion that people buy PCs so they can use them to put music on their iPods.

    They do not.

  77. Liassic
    FAIL

    A pretty dumb article.

    Do you realise how long it'll take to upload my 60GB of photos over the 256kbps ADSL that I have?

    A very long time.

    And actually never, because I'll never trust anyone else with my data.

    1. Ilgaz

      Especially

      When the company is World's largest media distributor ;)

      Not saying all files are pirated content, I got like 5 GB of completely legimate mp4 audio files and around 1TB of ripped DVDs here. Being part of media industry and knowing how these are produced, I don't even share them. The problem is, how to prove all data is legimately ripped? Impossible.

    2. JeremyP

      Really?

      Your 60GB of photos has almost certainly accumulated over some time. So it's true that broadband is nothing like broad enough to solve every backup problem. But iCloud isn't about solving that legacy problem, it's about a whole different pattern where, whenever I create or acquire content, it automagically becomes available to me everywhere. Sometimes that will be instant, sometimes, fast, sometimes slow. But the real deal is that it will happen, and I don't have to think about it.

      That's attractive. Maybe even compelling. But as ever, Apple isn't targeting the thin line of sophisticated technical users, it has in view the mass market who don't know and don't want to know there's such a thing as a 'file.'

  78. Alan Denman

    It's the opposite

    Caching of music etc on devices actually benefits from more storage.

    So without memory expansion it eventually becomes obvious you have bought a turd.

    Of course that may be to be benefit of Apple who will happily sell you yet another turd.

  79. Paul RND*1000
    FAIL

    That data that's in the cloud...

    ...what was it being stored on again?

  80. Peter 48
    FAIL

    to many bites from the apple

    "Smart phones and tablets are much easier to use than PCs" for a very limited range of things, usually consisting of consuming digital information and even then they are heavily restricted and cumbersome to use with anything but specific files and formats. I'd like to see you edit a photo, write a report or download a torrent on a portable device and then tell me that it is easier than using a PC/MAC.

    Nice try but still a massive fail.

  81. Dibbles
    FAIL

    er.... no

    "Smart phones and tablets are much easier to use than PCs "

    Ye-es. Let's leave that assumption right there, shall we?

  82. Jeff 11
    FAIL

    Can't work yet

    The idea of cloud - or indeed any remote - storage replacing local storage just won't work with the technology we have now because disk subsystems have evolved to make use of local buses which don't translate well over network connections. There are disk operations that, even over high throughput LAN, simply don't work quickly enough and are susceptible to traffic congestion, faulty network links and so on. For example, try stat-ing a large number of files over a network file system. And wait. And wait. And wait. Why?

    There's no command queueing because the controller on the remote machine doesn't know what the next command is going to be. The client can't optimise its instructions to the remote machine because it doesn't have a hollistic view of the filesystem on the remote. You can get around this using block network protocols like iSCSI, but they're expensive to implement and don't really fit into making mass storage cheap. Add to that network latency, which is is multiplied as a result of having to query and respond to each atomic operation, rather than plan ahead. Until these huge, fundamental problems are sovled, the idea of cloud storage which is as cheap and fast as local storage is a pipe dream.

    1. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Can't work yet but...

      I agree with your general point but not necessarily the details. Network access of storage works fine on a nice fast wired local network. Once you get beyond that it falls apart. A NAS transfer can easily outrun a USB transfer. However, a WAN transfer is going to be far worse than either of those.

      The network is the problem but networking in general is not the problem.

      The world is not flat enough for the Cloud to work yet. If it were, then you could just have your own Cloud at home.

  83. Volker Hett

    There is a move away from the PC

    The VMWare CEO is talking about a Post-PC era, too.

    Let's see ...

  84. Jucking Fidiot
    WTF?

    Fanbois Now Writing For The Reg...

    Geez, I like Apple products, but I'm not crazy enough to trust them with ~20 years of data. I don't care how careful they'd claim to be with it. Might as well put everything on floppies and hand it to Bill Gates to hold for me. Next year I'm putting in a NAS at home, with backup to offsite storage (also mine, not a cloud). Drives are cheap & reliable, as NO corporation is.

    I just hope my mum doesn't shut off her internet for the offsite bit...

  85. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    It gives us its lovely data my precious, and we stores it ever so safely and keeps it from the nasssssty dataminers so we does. It does its taxes and we stores the returns for it. It pays its bills and wee keeps the statements for it. We doesn't ever let anyone else look at them, does we?

    No my precious, not ever ever never. Even if they asks nicely. There would be no chance that its documentses would be looked at secretly. No, none at all.

  86. Stevie Silver badge

    Er...

    But doesn't the cloud have to have an end point somewhere? Somewhere with persistent storage? Otherwise, if someone turns off the interweb, like they did in 2003, there goes my Duke Nukem high score.

    Surely somewhere in the world my saved Tetris game is safely spinning in limbo, not lollygagging around taking up room in someone's gazegabytes of memory?

    Oh God! What about my TwitFace profile? Please tell me that is safely written away lest all my friends forget who I am...

  87. me n u
    Pint

    Agree with some, but not all, of article

    It will be a very long time before HDD is completely irrelevant. I can see the PC paradigm dying soon enough, but there will be need for mass storage way beyond cell phone/tablet usage. Even PCs will be needed for workstation usage. I can not ever see a tablet doing video recoding; playback, yes. And video storage will require ever larger HDDs.

  88. Craigness
    WTF?

    Was it Steve Jobs?

    I've got loads of spreadsheets and documents, going back to 2006, which have never been near a consumer hard drive. Same with calendars, whilst email goes back even further. Ubuntu One puts my music straight into the cloud, and has done for more than a year. I've got by with a 8gb flash drive in my netbook for more than 2 years now, with photos in the cloud and backups of crucial stuff on usb sticks. That won't change, nomatter how prevalent the cloud becomes.

    Steve Jobs had nothing to do with this, but he's seen a trend and run with it, taking all the plaudits as he goes.

  89. Ashton Black
    Thumb Down

    Dear bloke wat wrote this article,

    {{Citation needed}}

    kthxbye.

  90. JB
    Happy

    Tomorrow's World

    I like to think this article is really just there to stimulate debate, rather than a deeply-held belief that HDDs will disappear in the near future. It has certainly worked!

    I think of that Tomorrow's World clip from 1968 where it was predicted that 'home' computers would be dumb terminals connected to a central computer in every town. I suppose it's just going full circle!

  91. Lamont Cranston

    Maybe St. Jobs could mention this to BT?

    All the while 0.3Mbps is the normal upload speed, all this iCloud faff will be dead in the water.

  92. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Total and Utter Bollocks

    This article is a joke at best. If we look at an average PC user, what takes up the most space on their hard drive? The answer is almost certainly applications. Even the most cloud aware games (like WoW for instance) take up tonnes of HDD space. This isn't going to change any time soon. Games have not been getting smaller over the last 10 years. In fact, network delivery makes cheap reusable storage even more important, which was why the XBox started having an HDD in it. Optical media was all well and good when all game delivery was by store sales, but with network application delivery being so popular you need something to store that app on. Also, many many applications now need regular updates for security or additional content delivery. HDDs make huge sense for that.

    In my case, I can't see how I can ever get off local storage into the cloud. I've got about 12TB of home storage on 2 NASs. The biggest use of that is movies, but also music and pictures take up a sizeable chunk. Especially when I can go away on a 2 week safari in Africa and come back with 3000 12Mb pictures!

    This article is complete and total fanbois fail.

  93. sisk Silver badge

    Disks are safe for now.

    The real money is in the enterprise market. Always has been. The consumer market could completely vanish tomorrow and the disk manufacturers would be fine for a few more years thanks to all those big corporate server rooms with their expensive drives and the desktops and notebooks that all those workers are tied to. That market's not going anywhere anytime soon. Sure, there will be a decline, but it's hardly 'the end for hard drives' yet.

    Now give NAND a few more years to improve and THEN you'll see HDD's go the way of the dinosaur.

  94. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Yeah Right...

    Like anyone would trust the cloud to look after their valued porn collection!

    And, even if I were to commit such folly, how long before Apple starts to levy charges of 99c to download one of my own pictures?

    Oh. Yes. I forgot. The charges won't ever happen because Apple is pure.

    (Paris coz she's into porn)

  95. KeithSloan

    To be fair to Steve Job's

    To be fair to Steve Job's I think iCloud is all about getting people to get more music books and films from iTunes Store i.e. more profit for Apple. They see competition coming from subscription services like Spotify and want people to keep buying music instead. Now you can buy your music from iTunes and stream it to anywhere ( As long as you use Apple devices ). Yes you can use iCloud for data, calendars etc but the main thrust is for streaming music and films.

  96. Ilgaz

    You know what bothers me?

    Apple owns a tested technology like XGrid which is actively used by advanced users, developers and scientists for a long time. E.g. XCode will take advantage of it.

    Whenever they say "cloud", something like realtime video transcoding, 48mpixel image effects, pixar quality stuff etc. comes to mind and it ends up something like Dropbox.

    I hoped Apple, with such a massive datacenter and technology built into every mac didn't join companies abusing the "cloud" name.

    It is not cloud. Amazon's stuff is cloud.

  97. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Narrow viewpoint

    I don't thing that HDD vendors will be upset. I'll bet the margin on their consumer product is rather thin. They will be selling plenty of disc and SAN capacity into all the data centers needed to support this Cloudy vision of the world.

    I shall be happy keeping all my data, particularly films and music and bank statements, on a couple of well sync'd personal HDD storage devices.

  98. wraith404
    Facepalm

    delusions of a dying man

    Apple is last to the cloud party, really whatever they think is irrelevant. Just let steve wither and fade.

  99. JeremyP

    HDD manufacturers should love Jobs

    There are three broad possibilities for the future of (ever-growing) storage, and what Jobs is setting out is great for HDD manaufacturers.

    In the first option, bulk data lives in the home/premise, backup is a hybrid of local (which will often be a theoretical possibility not a practical face) and web-based, and shared content is managed on a partial sync basis. In this world, most data is stored locally 1-2 times. This is essentially the recent past.

    In the second option, bulk data lives in the cloud, with some content cached on local devices. In this world, most data isn't stored locally at all. This is Google's ideal.

    And in the third, Jobsian world, bulk data has its master copy in the cloud and is stored on every single relevant device. In this world, most data is stored locally 2-3 times. This is the Jobs vision. And HDD manufacturers will be rooting for it.

  100. Gritzwally Philbin

    Put All Your Eggs in One Cloud?

    And for those of us who've been without *need* or even want to go mobile, this 'cloud' offers what?

  101. Enric Martinez
    Unhappy

    Boldly go Leash Free

    Well, that''s nice but I'm afraid it's only wishful thinking.

    WiFi and mobile internet is far, very far, from being practical. WiFi access pint still suck in most of the EU and specially in countries like mine, the Netherlands (one of the two or three countries with a bigger internet user percentage in the world). WiFi access pints, be it public or paid are slow, unreliable and the coverage is just crap. 3G networks are definitely not what you want to use except for browsing normally. We do have internet in the trains, the airport (I work there) and even so I am forced to read my mail through 3G and wait for syncing my gadgets until I am at home inside my own WiFI LAN. And I again kindly point to the fact that this is one of the most advanced countries in regard to technologies. Just think how the situation may be in the bandwagon of the EU... not to talk about the developing countries and the EU.

  102. Dana W
    Meh

    Why?

    I cannot see any serious computer user interested in the "iCloud". We have five Macs, and my desktop alone has three terabytes of hard disk.

    Its like those people who ask me why I use a 160 gig iPod Classic, when I could be using a 16 gig iPod touch. 16 gig is NOTHING! Who is getting all worked up about this little dribble of storage space? Its a convenience for file transfer, that's it.

    Its like being asked why I have an apartment when I could live in my car? This is for the normals, the sort of people who think two gig is PLENTY for a music player, and never replace a disk unless the old one fails.

  103. Geoff Edwards
    Thumb Down

    The end of hard drives?

    I still don't get this cloud thing. If its mainly a question of synching devices fair enough, storing my sensitive data no thanks. As for the end of hard drives? doesn't make any sense to me.

    I am just getting around to doing some video edting and now have an HD camcorder. Judging buy (ahem) the price I paid for it there is a large market. and people will want to store their footage if not edit them. Without a large hard drive or two I can't see how I can make films and store the original material except by using SD cards, which I'll have to index by assigning a number to them as there is no room to write anything of any length. I would have thought that hard drives have a long healthy life ahead of them. SSD are faster but more expensive and for large storage needs the hard drive makes more sense.

    Tape? I am just completing several weeks work copying VHS and SVHS footage to DV tape and will then be able to edit the material after capturing it to my PC. The VHS tape dates back to the early 1990s and amazingly has mainly been free of dropout and other defects.

    Photos? these are smaller for storage compared to video but there are still worries about the possible loss of images from hard drives and other storage. Some photographers are even transferring digital material to film, which at least one can see! What I need is a means to store a lot of video material bearing in mind that one hour of raw footage needs 13GB of storage. I also have audio recordings - 83 GB recorded over 18 months or so. I would have thought that there is a growing need for Joe Public to have more hard drive storage than is present in their PC. My Dell 690 has space for five hard drives but then that is a workstation. Yet at present I am using a 490 with three hard drives: a 500GB and two one Terabyte drives. I do have several external hard drives but these are largely unused - they are not very large anyway.

    For security a RAID 5 setup would be desirable? So I can hardly imagine a future reduction in hard drive sales, rather the reverse. What I would like is a cheap "box" that will allow access to a bank of Terabyte hard drives over a gigabyte network.

    At present I use SyncToy 2 to sync folders over my network, I am not tempted to use "cloud" storage, the closest I have got to the cloud is to open a Dropbox account, at present unused. But then I don't use many portable devices. My grandchildren might be more interested in not having to syhnch their iPods on a PC but then, they have the PCs and what school is mad enough to restrict their students to a Mac envirionment?

    I have never had a PC fail on me, ie it had to be scrapped due to mechanical failure. And my first PC was an Amstrad 386, which was reluctantly taken to recycling, simply as it didn't have a CD drive and at that time an external CD drive would have set me back £140.

  104. Colin Bain
    IT Angle

    A very long and slow death

    My experience with large companies and organisations is that unless there is a complete and miraculous conversion, these IT departments will not allow their subjects, sorry clients and employees, to switch to the cloud. Drives are here to stay for a long time.

  105. john devoy

    total drivel

    I know no-one who's ever bought a PC in order to sync their music collection. iCloud is a great idea if youre on 50mb broadband but the average UK is nowhere near it.

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