Instant applications from Iomega

In the pre-Comdex Mobile Focus press event, Iomega unveiled its LifeWorks initiative, a line of software applications that are preinstalled on a 100MB Zip disk. The idea, notes Craig Rathburn, general manager of software solutions at Iomega, is to make programs -- and not just ones by Iomega -- accessible anywhere to anyone.

"The vision is to have ten productivity programs out there," says Rathburn of Iomega's strategy over the next 18 months. "We're establishing this first with our own brand of software." However, the goal is to grow this line to partner with third parties and provide common productivity apps that you can store with your data.

The initial offering is the LifeWorks Photo Album, a $US30 application that includes two 100MB Zip disks -- a blank and one containing Iomega's self-designed photo album software. Due out early next year, the application uses Iomega's Active Disk technology to enable the disk to automatically run the software off of the Zip drive without requiring any further installation or participation on the part of the user.

That makes this a great solution for sharing photos with neophyte PC users like Grandma or Uncle Rob: All they need to do is insert the Zip disk you sent them via the mail, and automatically up will pop a series of albums that you've filed images into, or even a slide show. When you generate a disk to send to other users, they get the full Photo Album software with which to view the images.

The Photo Album application itself is very baseline and somewhat limited in its functionality. It can create multiple albums that span multiple disks, generate slide shows from albums, e-mail images, and print images (including sheets that offer multiple images per page). There's no image editing, nor are there any advanced features for digital camera users who might snap tons of pictures and have them all stored haphazardly on their hard disks.

Still, you pay only a slight premium for obtaining LifeWorks Photo Album: The two-disk set is just $US10 more than the typical cost for two blank 100MB Zip disks.

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