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Guest Post by Steve Pipe – Seagate Corporate Communications

Seagate Helps Drive Momentum for USM Standard

Seagate is helping build momentum for a new tech standard that makes it easy for consumers to add storage capacity to a computer—while also enabling them to share their digital files with other devices.

The Universal Storage Module (USM) standard makes it possible for consumers to store digital content locally on a removable storage device and easily share content between different devices equipped with a USM slot.

Seagate is working with a number of the world’s top PC makers to bring the benefits of USM to consumers. China’s Lenovo, the world’s second-largest PC manufacturer, and Taiwan’s ASUS, the fifth largest, have both introduced USM-based PCs that leverage Seagate’s external storage. The company’s GoFlex portable drives and its new Backup Plus drives both are USM-compatible.

“It’s the easiest way to expand a PC,” said Andy Horwitz, senior director of Product Line Management at Seagate. “With USM, you’re no longer locked into an embedded drive’s capacity. You have the flexibility to easily upgrade as your storage needs grow.”

“If you want to add more storage to a PC today, you have to either open up the computer and remove the old drive, be technical enough to add a new drive or hang storage from a cord off the USB port,” added Dave McClung, senior Staff Sales at Seagate. “With a USM slot, you can add a terabyte of storage as easily as putting a plug into a socket and it will instantly be seen as another internal drive by the system.”

Side by Side on Store Shelves

The benefits of USM hit home with Lenovo.  In a YouTube video for its USM-enabled IdeaCentre K430 desktop PC, viewers can see how simple it is to remove a drive from the USM slot and take the drive with them. This fall, U.S. retailing giant Best Buy will promote this PC on its shelves—side by side with a Seagate Backup Plus drive.

That retailing success came about with a lot of global Seagate teamwork. Sales reps from the U.S. and China visited Lenovo headquarters in Beijing last year to persuade the PC maker to add a USM slot to one of its PCs. Once Lenovo agreed to do just that, Seagate met with Best Buy executives in Minneapolis and convinced them to add Lenovo’s desktop USM PC to store shelves. Until now, Best Buy had only stocked Lenovo notebook computers.

It’s also the first time Best Buy will place an external drive next to a PC.

“It’s a big win because it gives us additional shelf placement at Best Buy,” said Horwitz. “The more places customers can find our products, the better. It shows the power of teamwork across regional sales teams at Seagate.”

It also shows how Seagate is working hard to deliver greater value to its customers.

Added Value

“Instead of talking about pricing and availability in our meetings with PC and DVR OEM customers, we’ve been bringing them technology that can enhance their products,” said McClung. “In return, Seagate is positioned as the drive of choice by consumers for those USM slots. It’s definitely a mutual benefit.”

“USM is an open standard that allows more companies to jointly develop new ideas and build applications around those ideas,” added Rex Dong, senior director of Asia-Pacific Sales and Marketing at Seagate. “By showing customers our leading technology and innovative product design, we hope to motivate more customers to engage with us as their storage partner.”

One example of such engagement could be seen in Taiwan earlier this summer, when Seagate and ASUS teamed at the Computex tech show to announce the industry’s first USM-based PC. ASUS is launching its new gaming PC with bundled Seagate Backup Plus drives at retail outlets in Asia and Canada.

“ASUS wanted a flexible, portable storage solution,” Dong explained. “Seagate has the only portable storage on the market today that’s flexible enough to be used as a traditional USB 3.0 drive, and also the only drive that can be plugged directly into a USM slot for faster backup and transfer of files.”

Also at Computex, Seagate helped promote the new USM Slimstandard, which is based on Seagate’s GoFlex Slim (now Seagate Slim) design. That brings the benefits of removable storage to notebooks, tablets and other portable devices with an ultra-slim profile.

Going Global

Seagate is helping extend the benefits of USM into other global markets by building USM-enabled portable drives for other manufacturers. Europe’s Verbatim uses a Seagate-built drive in its “Stor-N-Go” portable drive, while Dell also uses a Seagate drive for its USM storage product.

“We’re not just selling a bare drive,” said Horwitz. “We’re selling a full solution with enclosure. This helps us gain more market share in the retail space, and it helps enhance the value of the USM standard.”

While USM slots are mainly found in PCs and media players today, look for the technology to begin proliferating in the near future on other devices. Seagate has had discussions with game console makers, for example, along with cable and satellite TV providers for DVR and home NAS applications.

“Service providers understand that if a DVR’s drive fills up or if there’s a failure, they have to flip the entire box out to replace the drive with a new one, incurring a lot of service cost and customer dissatisfaction,” said McClung. “With a USM slot, customers or their service providers can easily remove and add a new drive to the system with little or no downtime.” – By Steve Pipe

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