EMC dives into consumer storage -- in China

Heavyweight in the corporate storage starts a broader push into consumer products in the fast-growing China market

EMC, a maker of high-end storage arrays, is adding a storage device designed for consumers to its product lineup. But instead of launching the device in Europe or the U.S., the storage vendor is first releasing the product in China.

"China represents one of the fastest-growing and largest consumer markets," said Steve Leonard, president of Asia-Pacific and Japan.

StorageCredenza is the first consumer hardware product from EMC, a heavyweight in the corporate storage market, and signals the start of a broader push into the consumer market. The decision to launch the device in China reflects the growing sophistication of users there and the importance of the Chinese market to EMC, Leonard said, adding the product's software was developed by EMC's team of Chinese engineers.

The StorageCredenza can hold four 3.5-inch SATA drives with a capacity up to 4TB, which EMC says is enough to hold 1,500 DVD-quality movies or 600,000 high-quality audio files. The device -- which has eSATA, Ethernet, and USB 2.0 ports -- is equipped with EMC's Retrospect backup software and is designed to guard data against the failure of a hard disk.

Users manage the StorageCredenza with a Web browser, allowing the device to be used with PCs as well as game consoles equipped with such a capability, including the Nintendo Wii, Sony's PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Portable consoles, EMC said. Other features include a media server that supports iTunes, a search function, and support for direct picture transfers with cameras that support the Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP).

The StorageCredenza is not a one-off foray by EMC into the consumer market. "We are committed as a company to this segment," Leonard said, citing EMC's earlier acquisition of online storage provider Mozy as another example of its growing interest in the market.

The StorageCredenza Model 400 is now available in China. A unit equipped with four 250GB drives is priced at 8,980 renminbi ($1,279). During the third quarter, EMC plans to ship the StorageCredenza Model 200, which includes two 500GB drives.

EMC eventually plans to roll out the StorageCredenza in other markets, but has not announced when and where that will happen.