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Friday, June 6, 2008

Western Digital (WDC) engineers themselves into a box

According to this article, Western Digital is working on a 20k RPM HDD to combat the SSD threat. SSD is faster and uses far less energy than current hard drives, which in turn saves the end user a lot in ongoing energy cost. It's part of the total cost of ownership schpiel that SSD makers have to spin to get you to accept the outrageous cost of the hardware itself. A 20k mechanical drive is going to use a whole lot more power than the existing 10k drives. In effect, Western Digital is doubling up on a bad bet.

The only path here for hard drive manufacturers is to reinvent themselves for the future... and non-mechanical drives are the future -- they fail less, they cost less to run, they're smaller. Seagate has been rumored to be looking to make an acquisition in this space for a while -- STEC, even, according to this.

This is classic disruptive technology theory. Kodak didn't embrace digital cameras for years -- in fact, they invented the technology and deliberately buried it because it would kill their film sales. That's not how you survive. Cannibalize yourself before your competitors eat you. Clearly I don't think doubling up on mechanical drives is the way to go here.

It's just a story on a blog, though. It could be noise. A 20k RPM HDD is certainly a noisy proposition.

Er. Disclosure: I'm short WDC and long STEC. Go figure.

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