IT'S AN ILL WIND that blows nobody good and we guess the same thing applies to flooding. While the world plus dog experienced serious production and supply chain disruptions as a result of last year's floods in Thailand, Seagate has come up smelling like a rose.
According to market estimates, Seagate recaptured the lead in hard disk drive (HDD) shipments during the fourth quarter of 2011, blowing past Western Digital, which was badly hit by the Thai flooding.
In the final quarter of 2011 IHS Isuppli reckons Seagate shipped 46.9 million HDDs worldwide, compared to 28.5 million for its arch-rival Western Digital.
According to the latest IHS Isuppli Storage Space Market Brief, Seagate suffered a "relatively minimal" sequential shipment decline of eight per cent compared to third-quarter figures of 50.8 million units. Western Digital, in contrast, took a "massive blow", as shipments fell 51 per cent from 57.8 million units in the earlier quarter.
"This reversal catapulted Seagate back to the top of the HDD market-a distinction it hasn't claimed in at least two years. Offering higher-margin products, Seagate also continues its longstanding status as market revenue leader, a lock on the space that Western Digital has not been able to pry free," IHS Isuppli noted.
Across the board, HDD shipments from the industry's five major manufacturers "retreated sharply" in the fourth quarter to 123.3 million units, down 30 per cent from 175.2 million units the quarter before. Along with Seagate and Western Digital, other major players such as Toshiba, Hitachi and Samsung also posted shipment declines, according to the study.
IHS Isuppli's rankings mean that Seagate controlled 38 per cent of overall HDD shipments in the fourth quarter, with Western Digital coming in a "distant second" at only 23 per cent. Toshiba had 16 per cent, followed by Hitachi with 14 per cent and Samsung with nine per cent.
Fang Zhang, analyst for storage systems at IHS Isuppli observed that Seagate owes its return to market leadership to a fortuitous accident in geography. Its HDD factory in Thailand is on high ground. Western Digital's plants on the other hand were in low-lying areas and the company suffered as a result. µ