Perpendicular-recording hard drives are coming, and that could mean a big mix-up in the rankings in the industry. Today, hard drives record and store data in a longitudinal fashion, with the read/write heads scanning over a horizontal plane. In perpendicular recording, data bits are aligned vertically, allowing for more data to be squeezed into a finite area. With this, hard drive makers will continue to be able to add capacity to their drives without adding cost.
The "Mikey" microdrive and "Slim" notebook drives coming from Hitachi Global Systems later this year will feature the technique. Toshiba and Seagate are coming out with similar drives.
Unfortunately, it's not easy, and a company that slips could find itself in a bind. Conceivably, it won't be able to offer the same density as perpendicular companies and may have to cut prices. Since most drive companies barely make money in a good year, those who can't stomach the transition could find themselves in trouble.