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Fact: There’s no such thing as too much storage. The more memory that a device has, the happier its owner will be. There is however, such a thing as paying too much for extra storage, and that’s why we’ve yet to see an iPad or an iPhone with a higher capacity than 64GB.
If you’re building a mobile device like a smartphone, tablet or even a laptop, flash storage, also known as a solid-state drive (SSD) is the way to go. As they contain no moving parts, they’re less likely to break down over time due to repetitive motion, and if the device they’re baked into gets dropped, there’s no risk of the kind of data loss that we associate with old school hard drives. Since there are no drive platters, there are no drive platters to damage. They’re also wicked fast compared to traditional hard drives.
Unfortunately, solid-state drives are still prohibitively expensive. "But why?" you ask, in your best Dr. Zoidberg voice. "Isn’t the same sort of flash memory technology in an SSD used in a USB stick and RAM memory?" The answer is: No.
SSDs are mostly constructed using NAND technology (an architecture introduced by Toshiba in 1989) as opposed to the DRAM tech that goes into putting together computer memory and USB memory sticks. NAND components perform at a higher level than their DRAM counterparts and, accordingly, cost more. In order to increase the storage capacity of an SSD, manufacturers have to string a number of NAND modules together. Doing so is a delicate affair that requires a great deal of firmware and controller tweaking. That sort of thing takes research, and research takes -- you guessed it -- more money.
The fact that SSDs still haven’t been widely adopted makes an impact on their cost as well. Since companies that make SSDs aren’t as likely to sell as many of them as they are traditional hard drives, they’re apt to build less of them. This scarcity drives the price of solid-state drives up, which in turn keeps manufacturers and consumers alike from buying as much of this hardware as they might if the price were lower. It’s the circle of financial strife.
But, thanks to the success of products like the iPhone, iPad, and the MacBook Air, it’s been proven that solid-state drive technology, when paired with the right hardware, can be a winner. Because of this, a number of big names in storage hardware, like Western Digital, Seagate, and Samsung, are all producing SSDs. With time, the competition between companies to provide the best SSD at the lowest cost to consumers will no doubt drive the price of the technology down in much the same way as it did with hard drives over the past ten years.
Until this happens, we don’t think you’ll see an increase in the storage capacity of any of Apple’s iOS devices. The price of an iPad is already significantly higher than that of an Android tablet with similiar specifications. By providing an iPad with more physical storage space, Apple would be required to raise the price of their tablet to such an extent that it would be out of reach for most consumers, and therefore, not worth making from a financial standpoint.
In the meantime, there are always Wi-Fi-capable hard drives that allow your iOS device to access content apart from the device, even when your 64GB iPad is full to the rafters with Retina Display screenshots.