El Segundo, Calf. - Seagate Technology recaptured the No. 1 spot in hard drive shipments, according to IHS.
IHS attributed Seagate's placement atop the hard drive market to the company's minimal exposure to the flooding in Thailand last year. This is the first time in two years that Seagate has led the industry, IHS said.
Seagate's shipments dropped only 8 percent during the fourth quarter to $6.9 million, compared with the previous quarter. Western Digital shipments, in contrast, dropped 51 percent, to 28.5 million.
"Seagate owes its return to market leadership to a fortuitous accident in geography: Its HDD manufacturing plant in Thailand is located on high ground," observed Fang Zhang, analyst for storage systems at IHS. "As a result, the company was less impacted by the October floods-the most destructive in the last 50 years for the Southeast Asian country. On the other hand, Western Digital's HDD manufacturing facilities were engulfed by rampaging storm waters, which effectively slashed its fourth-quarter output to half of the manufacturer's pre-flood volume."
The impact of the floods can be seen industry-wide as shipments were down 30 percent overall to 123.3 million units shipped compared to the 175.2 million shipped during the third quarter.
The hard drive industry is in the midst of a major consolidation as Seagate is in the process of acquiring Samsung's hard drive business and Western Digital is buying Hitachi Global Storage Technology.
Hitachi and Samsung were Nos. 4 and 5 on IHS's list of top hard drive shippers for the fourth quarter.
The dearth of hard drives also drove up prices during the fourth quarter.
Zhang said the average selling price for hard drives rose 24 percent during the fourth quarter, and while prices are in the process of declining as production comes back online in Thailand pre-flood levels will not be reached in the near future.
The consolidation will impact prices as there will be fewer competitors in the market.