Lyve now works with Seagate drives, hints at more partnerships

Lyve, the personal media startup that introduced its own $300 photo-centric backup device last year, is getting a lot more affordable: Any Seagate drive that has at least 500GB capacity can now be turned into a Lyve backup device, the company announced at CES in Las Vegas this week.

Users just have to download the free Lyve desktop app on their Mac or PC to make use of the drive. After that, Lyve will automatically back up any photos or videos from that computer, as well as any media recorded with mobile device that has the Lyve app installed, onto that drive.

Lyve was first only available to consumers who purchased the $300 Lyve Home device, which is essentially a connected hard drive with phone-sized screen and Lyve’s media management software.

In October, the company also started to make its apps available to users who don’t have any Lyve hardware, giving them a way to organize all their media on multiple devices through one app, but not offering any back-ups. Late last year, Lyve also announced the $200 Lyve studio, which comes with only 500GB of storage, and doesn’t have a screen. Since the release of the free apps, Lyve has seen 250 million photos and videos added to its service, Lyve CEO Tim Bucher told me during an interview at CES.

With this new update, Lyve seemingly deemphasizes its own devices, but Bucher said that we can continue to expect new devices for Lyve. Some of these are going to be made by partners, he added, without elaborating further. Seagate would be an obvious hardware partner for Lyve; the hard drive maker has a significant investment in the company. However, Bucher said that Lyve may also team up with other storage media manufacturers to turn their external hard drives into Lyve storage as well.

Lyve also plans to release an SDK for its service in 2015, and the company is getting ready to update its mobile apps with tagging as well as photo editing features, which it is providing in partnership with Aviary. Users will be able to buy premium effects for editing through in-app purchases, and Bucher told me that there will also be other premium services this year. That’s why making Lyve more readily available via external hard drives will actually help the company to make more money in the long run, argued Lyve’s VP of Marketing Tami Bhaumik: “It allows us to accelerate our plans.”

Seagate’s new Personal Cloud drive is a $170 Plex Media Server

Remember Seagate’s new Personal Cloud drive, which my colleague Kevin Tofel wrote about earlier this week? Turns out the device, which can already play content on Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV and other devices, has another ace up its sleeve: It is getting a Plex Media Server app through Seagate’s NAS app store, the company revealed at the Pepcom Digital Experience show at CES Monday.

This is huge news for Plex fans: Plex, which is a long-time favorite of people with a large collections of personal media, has had playback apps for all major mobile platforms as well as a long list of streaming boxes, smart TVs and other connected devices for some time.

But to use Plex, you also have to run a Plex Media Server app, which either means always leaving your laptop or a dedicated media PC up and running 24/7, or buying one of a handful of supported network-attached storage drives. Plex has media server apps available for just a few NAS models, with prices generally starting at $500 and up, not even including the necessary hard drives.

Seagate was showing off its Personal Cloud drives at the Pepcom Digital Experience event at CES.

Seagate was showing off its Personal Cloud drives at the Pepcom Digital Experience event at CES.

Seagate’s Personal Cloud drives on the other hand start at $170 for a 3TB connected drive, with the option to spend a little more on a 4TB drive or a 5TB drive. Users will also be able to buy a 2-bay drive with 4TB, 6TB or 8TB capacity for added security via RAID.

Seagate’s Simple NAS Products Product Line Manager Charles Ribaudo told me that the Cloud Drive won’t be able to transcode media for Plex in real-time, but that the device will be able to transcode in advance to have the media ready in the formats you’ll need. He added that Seagate will be adding a bunch of other apps to the device, including BitTorrent Sync and Owncloud.


GoFlex Satellite review: Stormy weather for this personal cloud

The idea behind Seagate’s GoFlex Satellite is cool: a 500GB drive and a Wi-Fi transmitter in a small case, which can stream your media collection. So when Seagate sent me a Satellite to test, I looked forward to it. Unfortunately, I ran into significant problems.

Personal cloud options for iOS users grow with Hitachi G-Connect

Hitachi unveiled its G-Connect wireless media storage drive, designed for use with mobile devices like the iPad and iPhone. It follows the example set by Seagate’s GoFlex battery-powered mobile streaming hard drive, and both represent an alternative to cloud computing that’s gaining momentum.

Another SSD Hardware Startup Gets Cash. When’s the Shakeout?

Kaminario, which provides high-performance storage, has raised a $15 million C round of financing. As SSD startups hit maturity and the market for using solid state drives in data centers for high-performance and energy efficient storage heats up, when will we see the inevitable consolidation?