Dell to start killing floppy drives over four and a half years after Apple led the way

“For nearly 16 years, one piece of personal computer technology has remained the same: the floppy disk drive.

While microprocessor speeds and computer memory have improved by leaps and bounds, the lowly floppy disk, with its measly 1.44-megabyte capacity, hasn’t changed. Over the years, other technologies have been touted as floppy drive replacements, namely zip drives and recordable compact discs. But they couldn’t slay the floppy disk drive, which is still standard on most desktop PCs.

The floppy drive may have finally met its match in small, high-capacity portable storage devices called USB flash memory drives. They pack 16 MB or more of storage into a thumb-sized device that many companies sell as a key chain accessory.

Dell Computer Corp. (NasdaqNM:DELL – News) says the time is right to stop including floppy disk drives as standard hardware on its consumer desktop computers. Later this quarter, Dell will no longer include floppy disk drives in its Dimension desktops unless specially ordered. “We would like to see customers migrate away from floppies as quickly as possible, because there are better alternative technologies out there,” said Mark Vena, director of product marketing for Dell’s Dimension desktop PCs.

Dell will work to educate consumers that USB drives are a better way to take their data on the go. They’re simple to use and provide for more secure data storage than floppies.

But USB drives aren’t cheap like floppy drives. A low-end 16 MB USB drive costs about $20.

Getting people to part with floppy drives will take some work, Vena admits. “Customers still have an emotional tie to floppies,” he said. “But it’s an antique technology. At some point, you’ve got to draw the line,” writes Patrick Seitz for Investor’s Business Daily.

Seitz continues, “Apple Computer Inc. stopped including floppy disk drives in its Macintosh computers starting with the iMac in August 1998.

Dell plans to stagger its introduction of floppy-less desktop PCs, Vena says. Dell’s build-to-order business model gives it an advantage over other PC companies, which have to ship preconfigured machines to stores.

Dell will work to educate its customers about USB drives and CD recorders for storing data, Vena says.

Hewlett-Packard Co., the world’s No. 1 PC seller in 2002, has no plans to stop linking floppy drives with its PCs, says Bruce Greenwood, product marketing manager for HP’s desktop PCs in North America.

‘We have been looking at this for years and have always come up on the side of keeping the floppy in,’ Greenwood said. ‘There is a potential for some experimentation to happen. It’s something we are continuing to consider.’

HP is concerned that taking away the floppy drive could dissatisfy customers. ‘I’d hate to lose a sale based on that,’ he said.

The floppy disk drive isn’t the only technology outliving its usefulness on modern-day PCs. The same argument can be made about parallel ports and serial ports…” Full article here.

MacDailyNews take: Apple is so far out in front, Dell can barely see them. HP is obviously completely blind.


  1. So there getting rid of floppy drives, and may ditch parallel and serial ports in favour of USB. Is this iDimension going to be available in bondi-blue or five fruit flavours?

    Dell innovation again…

  2. I think that it’s easy to say Dell is following Apple, but I think the opposite. As stated, Apple did this 4 1/2 years ago. If Dell followed soon thereafter you might have more of an argument.

    Keep in mind the PC world is WAY different than ours.
    “HP is concerned that taking away the floppy drive could dissatisfy customers. ‘I’d hate to lose a sale based on that,’ he said.”

    I understand this. It’s such a fierce market and the floppy is such a cheap component. Why the hell not keep it in?

    I think it was easier for Apple to do this because it’s not like someone who want’s a floppy in their Mac can really do much other than get used to it or buy an external drive. A PC buyer can just say “It doesn’t come with a floppy?! Okay, I’ll take the other one that does.”

    Now Dell, being that they command so much of the PC market does have some of that leverage that Apple had. Many people who buy a Dell are already set on doing so, and there is probably a sufficent level of consumer trust that a customer may think “Well, if Dell doesn’t think it’s necessary, it probably isn’t.” HP, Gateway, and others need every last sale so they’d just rather keep it and serial and parallel ports too.

    I knew when I saw this news yesterday that there would be a bunch of Mac folk huffing and puffing that they ditched it first. Who cares? It’s just a stupid floppy drive right?

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.