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Floppies here to stay

Floppy disk drives are far from becoming a flop in the CD-ROM age, according to a new Dataquest study.

Floppy disk drives are far from becoming a flop in the CD-ROM age, according to a Dataquest study released today.

Predictions of the floppy drive's demise have been premature and, in fact, there has been a 10.3 percent increase in disk drives shipped worldwide in 1996 compared to 1995 figures, a total of 89.6 million, Dataquest reported.

Driving shipments of floppy drives are low prices and a sense among users that computers should include the devices, analysts said.

Phil Devin, vice president and chief analyst of Dataquest's computer storage program, forecasts that the floppy drive will remain pervasive as long as there is no other economically feasible alternative.

He attributes the floppy's longevity solely to drive makers' competitive pricing strategy. With removable storage devices like the Zip drive carrying a price tag of around $149, PC makers regard the economy of the floppy as highly attractive at its typical price of under $20.

Mitsumi Electronics and TEAC led the pack with rankings of No. 1 and 2, respectively, among the floppy drive makers, Devin said.

In addition to their low cost, floppy drives are also still regarded as part of the standard PC package, whereas Zip drives have not yet reached that same degree of expectation.

Daniel Kunstler, an analyst with JP Morgan, calls the floppy drive "a legacy." Kunstler also points out that the CD-ROM vs. floppy drive debate is not an "either-or proposition" because most PCs can easily integrate both.

The only market where he foresees the floppy drive declining is the notebook market because "real estate" on notebook hardware comes at a premium.