Iomega moved to keep its Zip drive business competitive in a world dominated by CD-RW by introducing a new drive that reads and writes 750MB media.
The Zip 750 has three times the capacity of the current Zip model and company executives say its write, rewrite and read speeds are about 50x each, outpacing CD-RW drive capacities by several factors. Despite this Iomega plans to position the new drive primarily as data backup and sharing system for consumers and the So/Ho market because CD technology is so entrenched as a music and digital-imaging medium.
The Zip 750, which connects via a USB 2.0 port, can read Zip 100 discs and read and write to the Zip 250 discs, but those drives cannot read or write the 750 media. The new product has started shipping with a $179 suggested retail price. FireWire and ATAPI versions are expected out this fall for $199. The discs cost in the $14 range; slightly less in multipacks.
Tim Dammon, Iomega's product general manager, said the company will retain the Zip 100 and Zip 250 products, giving it a good-better-best strategy. He could not say what percentage of Zip sales would go to the new drive. He does hope the drive will bring in new customers to the Zip family, but also convince current Zip drive owners to upgrade to the larger format.
The original Zip 100 has had remarkably long legs and still comprises about 40 percent of all drive sales, 1 million of which are sold each quarter, he said. Dammon would not say what percentage of these sales would end up going to the new product.
Most sales are expected to go to consumers. Dammon said consumers now make about 62 percent of all Zip purchases, with business comprising 30 percent and the remaining 8 percent going into the education market.
The Zip 750 introduction is representative of Iomega's strategy to return to its roots as a data storage provider, after a several failed attempts to reinvent itself as a consumer electronics company. The company's consumer product line, exclusive of the Zip family, includes CD-RW drives, portable hard drives and the Peerless removable storage system. Dammon said the hard drives are selling quite well and hinted that this could negatively impact the Peerless product line. However, Iomega does not plan to pull its support from the Peerless any time soon.