Below some quotes from The Wall Street Journal on the ambitions of Seagate and other storage companies to trade up the product portfolio and as a result to compete against different online storage providers and mobile devices like the iPod and smartphones. Nothing really special or new. Life Caching was already a trend in Asia three years (see this post from Trendwatching).
Personally I believe in the short term there is a big market for the different offline data storage solutions while in the long run (> 3 years) the online storage solutions will be the clear winners in most situations (perhaps even Gmail of Live Mail ?). Why ? Right now the bandwidth issue (speed in general and cost in terms of mobile access) stimulates the demand for easier, quicker and cheaper offline data storage solutions. More importantly, the online storage has the great benefit relative to offline solutions that it is eternal (or on most in cases ;-)) and without theft/loss possibility (leaving hacking as an option).
"Seagate will use next week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to test whether users can form an emotional attachment to devices for storing their digital photos, movies and songs. Employing stylish design and useful software -- and hoping to borrow a page from Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod media player -- Seagate is hoping its new drives could even become a fashion statement for people who want to carry their data with them. It's your life, on the go.
Tom Coughlin, an industry consultant in Atascadero, Calif., estimates that the "tech savvy" home now has about 700 gigabytes of data stored on various media, including CDs, DVDs and disk drives. By 2010, the same household will have 4.5 terabytes of data on hand, he predicts. A portable model called FreeAgent Go allows users to plug into someone else's computer and immediately have access to their own personalized information, including Web favorites, contacts and passwords. When they unplug the device, they leave no trace of their private information on that computer, Seagate says."