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Iomega moves off the desktop

The storage company is marketing its Zip drive for use with all manner of digital devices, from photo scanners to set-top boxes.

Iomega unveiled a wide-ranging strategy aimed at marketing its Zip drive for all manner of non-PC devices, including scanners, printers, and set-top boxes.

The popular Zip drive offers about 100MB of storage, and is typically used as an add-on for desktop and notebook computer users to back up important data. But Iomega is betting that consumers will be looking to store data from many different devices.

Consumers will be "liberated from the PC," said Iomega's John Sperrazzo, business development manager of Beyond PC applications. "Users have been held hostage by the serial cable."

Iomega unveiled a scanner from Microtek Labs, the Imagedeck, which includes Zip Built-In. The ImageDeck allows users to store photos directly to a Zip disk, to archive them, and to create digital photo albums, Sperrazzo said.

Iomega's Zip Built-In will also be integrated into a set-top box from WebSurfer to store email, Web downloads, and other Internet content.

"This is a market that will explode into higher unit volume than even PCs in 5-6 years. Everyone's banking on this action in the living room, but no one is able to take information off the television," Sperrazzo said.

And set-top boxes coupled with Zip drives will help fuel e-commerce, Sperrazzo said. "It's pretty clear that set-top boxes will open the avenue for selling content and services--purchasing audio, movie, and television content," which would be stored on a Zip drive. Eventually, users may be able to purchase segments of television programs and store them to a disk.

One Zip drive can be used with many devices, as well with existing Zip drives on PCs and notebooks. Later this year, Iomega plans to debut its Clik drive, which is also targeted as an interoperable storage option for mobile computing and digital-camera users. Sperrazzo does not think the product lines overlap.

"Thus far, there's been no conflict," he said. "We see ourselves as complementary." Zip stores about 100MB of data, while Clik will store around 40MB.

In addition to consumer devices, Zip will be used to archive data taken from medical devices, music and audio devices, and projection systems.