In the highly commoditised computer industry, some components have more sex appeal than others. Take, for example, the high-definition display or the funky backlit keyboard on the latest PowerBooks. Not so the lowly hard disk drive, a computing object of ire every time drive failure causes the loss of irreplaceable photos and personal data. Hitachi Global Storage Solutions wants to change that image. Launched last week amid huge fanfare including an animated hip-hop commercial and a slogan proclaiming the hard drive as the latest 'must-have' accessory, Hitachi's latest one-inch and 1.8-inch hard drives even have nicknames, 'Mikey' and 'Slim'. 'These are the must-have digital storage devices for the consumer at the cutting edge of bringing in music and video on converged devices,' said Bill Healy, Hitachi senior vice-president for product strategy and marketing. Hitachi has reduced the volume and power consumption of its new Microdrive 3K8 Mikey and Slim drives by 20 per cent and 40 per cent respectively compared with its predecessor, while increasing capacity to six and eight gigabytes. The firm has also added drop-sensor technology to the drives, a technology previously available only in higher-end notebooks. Hitachi is pitching the new drives at the emerging category of mobile phones marketed as converged devices with MP3 players, cameras and video playback, which the company expects to begin shipping in real volumes by 2007. The 1.8-inch Travelstar C4K60 Slim is 30 per cent thinner than its predecessor, ships in 30GB and 60GB capacities, and is aimed at the burgeoning media player market and, potentially, slim or sub-notebooks. 'We are really trying to promote to the consumer the Hitachi image. We want the consumer to say: We cannot afford to buy a device like this that doesn't have shock-sensor technology,' Mr Healy said. Promoting a hard drive brand image directly to consumers is a departure in the industry, but there are fundamental reasons for Hitachi's drive. For every Archos, Creative or JVC willing to promote its device as Hitachi drive-enabled, there are other manufacturers who would prefer to include any hard drive in their devices to take advantage of cost savings or commodity pricing that exists in the market. And with hard drive prices falling all the time, Hitachi wants brand recognition to boost volume shipments. 'Volume is the indicator of growth in our business,' Mr Healy said.