Seagate is also taking advantage of GoFlex to address cross-platform compatibility issues. When a GoFlex drive is connected to a Mac, a prompt asks whether you'd like to use it for just the Mac or with Macs and PCs. If you choose the latter, the drive installs a driver that allows the Mac to write to NTFS volumes, addressing a
GoFlex drives install a driver that allows the Mac to write to NTFS volumes, addressing a longstanding omission from Apple's system software.
longstanding omission from Apple's system software. (Formatting the drive as Mac-only, of course, will enable easier sharing among a Mac workgroup and allow use of the drive with Time Machine.) Now Seagate no longer has to sell pre-formatted Mac drives, and of course one can always optimize for faster Mac transfer speeds by buying the GoFlex FireWire adapter. For the Mac customer, though, the question is whether finding FireWire GoFlex adapters will be any easier than finding FireWire-based external drives.
The GoFlex usage model is so versatile, it's surprising that someone hasn't tried creating a similar set of products for "naked" internal drives using the SATA connector, although Seagate cautions that moving such drives around a lot is dangerous as they are unprotected from falls. In any case, Seagate's intermediate layer of adapters, docks and enclosures would be harder to make a case for were they used only for directly attaching hard drives to a PC, but adding in the GoFlex Net and GoFlex TV options allows an approach to moving media around the home that blends the best of the home networking and sneakernet worlds. If it's successful, it could have a further opportunity to take on that bastion of disconnected entertainment known as the car, but don't hold your breath for the GoFlex Fuel.
Ross Rubin is executive director of industry analysis for consumer technology at market research and analysis firm The NPD Group. Views expressed in Switched On are his own.