Seagate “Crickett”: Bluetooth hard drive for phones

January 30, 2007, 4:00 AM UTC


Seagate (STX) today will announce perhaps its oddest product ever: a hard drive, code-named Crickett, that uses Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to your cell phone. Starting capacity: 10 gigabytes. $159.

(Above, the device next to a RAZR.)

Cool, no question. But when Seagate marketing manager Rob Pait told me about it, my first question was, “Why does my cell phone need a hard drive?”

I’m supposed to be a gadget guy, and gadget guys aren’t supposed to ask those types of questions. We’re supposed to ask, “How long before you get to 100 gigabytes?” But I was really curious what the drive is for. Seagate is calling it DAVE, for “Digital Audio Video Experience.”

Pait explained that DAVE is designed to hold all that stuff I’ll be using my cell phone to download. Movies, music, all that. Instead of keeping it on my phone, or keeping it on an SD card that fits into my phone, I can download it onto this wireless hard drive and stream it back to my phone. I could also use the drive to store business information.

Still I can’t imagine buying one, considering I could have an 8GB iPod nano for $40 more. (The nano has a screen and a simple interface, plays music, and hooks up to all kinds of accessories like the iPod+Nike Sport kit. It just doesn’t connect to a phone.)

With respect to Seagate – and I have a lot of respect for Seagate – this strikes me as great technology put to an ill-conceived use. I can see why wireless carriers would love DAVE – they hope that with more storage we’ll download more content, and spend more money paying phone bills. They also hope to extend their “walled garden” ways to the hard drive, keeping consumers from burning backup discs of content they’ve purchased.

But that’s not how I want to experience my content.

I told Seagate I’d be really excited about the drive if digital camera manufacturers were to get on board with, and build Bluetooth into their products. If the hard drive could wirelessly back up all the pictures in a camera, freeing up space for more photos, I’d buy it. (My wife likes to leave photos in the camera’s SD card for viewing convenience, but that has a way of limiting how many pictures we can fit on the thing.)

So DAVE is good, exciting technology. But I’d love to see it more consumer-focused, rather than carrier-focused.