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
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
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.