Iomega discontinues PocketZip?|
(Friday, January 25, 2002 - 16:11 EST)
Rumors on the net suggest the company's portable storage format has reached the end of the road...
An article on the Enquirer website pointed out to us by IR reader Charles Chen suggests that Iomega has quietly canned its PocketZip storage format along with a range of devices which support the media. If you're not familiar with PocketZip, it began its life when it started shipping in December 1998 as the Clik! disk before being renamed in late 2000, and is a 40MB disk-type magnetic media based on Fuji's ATOMM technology.
We'd definitely put suggestions of PocketZip's demise in the "rumor" category thus far, as the Enquirer article is based on hearsay from end-users and the site doesn't appear to have independently verified the info. That said, it is correct in pointing out that threads on the official Iomega forums contain posts speculating (and strongly suggesting) that PocketZip is at an end.
One particular forum post by "TheManUpstairs" purports to be a transcript of a conversation with an Iomega support representative who apparently firmly states that "Iomega has discontinued the production of HipZip" (Iomega's PocketZip-based MP3 player). When asked, the rep then confirms that the PocketZip disks themselves will no longer be sold, and that Clik! / PocketZip is completely discontinued. Other forum posts indicated that similar statements have been made elsewhere.
As we noted, this is all as-yet unsubstantiated; we've attempted to contact Iomega's PR people but have yet to get a response at this time. Iomega's website currently lists all of the PocketZip products as still in-stock at the time of this writing - however this could conceivably be old inventory and run out at any time. As Charles notes in his email to us, Clik! / PocketZip media and related products seem to be selling at firesale prices - which in itself would seem to confirm the likelihood that existing stock is being sold off as quickly as possible.
One point which would seem particularly embarrassing for Iomega is that if PocketZip is discontinued, then this would presumably put an end to the much-hyped (but thus-far vaporware) PocketZip 100MB format which it announced back in March 2001, and initially promised for availability in the third quarter of last year. PocketZip 100MB drives were supposed to have been able to read either 40MB or 100MB disks, however to date no PocketZip 100MB products have reached the market.
One thing is for certain - if Iomega is cancelling not just the PocketZip-compatible products but the media as well, it will have some very unhappy customers on its hands. As with any rotating magnetic media, Clik! and PocketZip disks have a finite lifetime - and if no more disks are manufactured, then Clik! and PocketZip products will become worthless as the disks already in use gradually fail. Clik! and PocketZip are completely proprietary, and without the disks there will be no way to use the digital cameras, MP3 players, etc. which are tied to the format.
This isn't the first time Iomega has been trapped in a potential public relations minefield. Probably the company's most famous product - the Zip drive - was plagued by a problem dubbed "Click Death" by the media (which made Iomega's choice of the name Clik! for its very next product rather bizarre!) Many were critical of Iomega's handling of that issue at the time, and it will be interesting to see how the company responds to the likely wave of unhappy sentiment if their products are made redundant by the discontinuation of PocketZip media.
Thus far, its response has been a resounding silence. PocketZip and the related products are still listed as current items on the company's website, and there has been no official press release on the matter. This is, perhaps, understandable - if it officially announces that the disks will no longer be manufactured then it will have a difficult time shipping any remaining stock of the other PocketZip products. If we receive any comment from the company on the status of PocketZip though, you'll see it on our news page. In the meantime we'd suggest owners of PocketZip and Clik! products may want to consider "stocking up" to be on the safe side...
The moral of this story? Always think carefully before purchasing proprietary technologies, particularly ones which are vital to the usefulness of a particular product. Products based on standards such as CompactFlash, SmartMedia and MemoryStick are made by multiple companies, and even should one decide to drop its support it is likely the others will continue for some time. When you only have one source for the media vital to the use of a product, you find yourself in an unenviable situation if it decides to drop its support for that media.
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