2/07/2005

Flashy Drives

All of us at SUU know about the cool Jump/Flash drives that have made college life so much easier. Toshiba and SanDisk recently announced the release of an 1 gigabyte flash drive that runs 40% faster than the previous generation. I remember when my parents bought a brand new computer with 2 gigabytes of memory. Everyone said that we would never need that much space. Now that is hardly enough memory to do all the things school requires. Does the increased supply and reduced cost of memory cause an increased dependency on its use? Why don't companies work as much on making files smaller, more accurate, and more efficient as they do on increasing memory capacity?

2 comments:

Dr. Tufte said...

You came to the right place - an economics professor who knows a lot about hardware and software.

They work on increasing memory because the gains from miniturization have not been exhausted yet. They don't work as much on compressing files because there isn't a lot of room in many of them - software compression isn't that hard, and the gains are not as big as hardware expansion anyway.

BTW: the first computer I bought had a 0.12 Gb hard drive (that was Christmas 1994). I still own (but don't use) a my first laptop - which had no hard drive at all.

C-Dizzle said...

Lexar and many other manufacturers are selling 4GB drives and beyond. As the programs become larger and more detailed, more space is needed to store complicated files.

Your question “Does the increased supply and reduced cost of memory cause an increased dependency on its use” is an indirect example of an individual demand schedule. For example, three months ago I began looking for a jump drive to use at school. I’m pretty picky about my computer toys and I was determined not to settle for anything less than a 512mb drive. Anyone that’s been looking for a similar drive would know that the average price for a ‘trusted’ flash drive with 512mb is around $50. I was only willing to pay $30. Finally, after a load of patience and tons of research, I found a SanDisk 512mb drive for $30.

Now to tie this story in, as the price of the jump drive dropped, my personal demand increased. So, I do believe a drop in the price increases the overall demand but not necessarily the dependency. Each individual decides on their own whether they are dependant on a product or not. I don’t consider myself dependant on my jump drive but it is definitely a major convenience.