U3 USB Devices Launch at DEMOfall

Several device manufacturers on Monday unveiled the first USB drives based upon the U3 standard, a method that enables users to carry, store and launch applications directly from a USB flash drive without installation.

The U3 technology was first introduced at CES 2005 in January, supported by a host of software and hardware vendors. However, missing from the list is Microsoft, which has not committed to backing the standard.

In the United States, SanDisk, Kingston, Memorex and Verbatim will be launching smart drives for U3 and several popular applications are announcing software support for the standard.

Kate Purmal, CEO of U3, plans to demonstrate on Tuesday the technology's advantages at DEMOfall, to be held in Huntington Beach, California.

"Computing will never be the same after today's launch. This will mark the first available plug-and-play way for consumers to carry and access their personal workspace without having to lug a laptop around," Purmal said.

Software support includes AOL's Winamp, Cerulean Studios' Trillian, McAfee Antivirus and Skype among others. This support by high profile vendors is helping U3 to gain momentum and spur possible widespread adoption, according to Gartner Senior Analyst Joseph Unsworth.

"The next 18 months will be interesting to watch as new software developers come on board, broadening the landscape for new applications while attracting new consumers," Unsworth noted.

U3 drives will begin to ship from various vendors beginning on October 15 in sizes ranging from 256MB to 2GB. The U3 group also announced it had signed a deal with I-O DATA of Japan to begin producing drives for that market beginning early next year.

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