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K15

Will WD survive?

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I was just thinking of Seagate's purchase of Maxtor and was thinking about Western Digital. Now there remains Seagate, Hitachi, Western Digital, Samsung as the major players. WD and Samsung are the smallest. Samsung will survive as a company if their storage division is bought, but WD would not. As far as i'm concerned, if Maxtor could be bought, so could WD. Not in the next couple years at least, but i'm thinking it could happen. WD doesn't innovate as much as they once did and they certainly don't as much as Hitachi or Seagate does. Not to mention almost all their revenue is in 3.5 inch consumer drives. Their drives are built well, they tend to be quick enough and they are the only maker painting the entire drives a cool black (ok, the last one doesn't matter). Just wondering what the general idea is around here. I would like WD to stay as another option. With WD gone, we could basically choose between Hitachi, Seagate or Samsung.

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"WD doesn't innovate as much as they once did"

WD's innovations are mostly in meeting (or creating) customer demands: larger cache (Caviar "Special Edition"), server mechanics combined with regular SATA (Raptor), transparent HDD cover (already done by many modders, but Raptor X being the first one with a factory assembled transparent cover), etc.

WD doesn't really have much immaterial property (i.e pantents). Most of WD's market innovations could be copied onto other manufacturers' drives if they wanted to. IF they wanted to. (It's unlikely that Seagate or Hitachi would make a 10krpm SATA drive to compete with their own expensive SCSI equipment. It's also unlikely that there's enough PC modders to make a transparent cover Seagate/Hitachi/Samsung a profitable product as long as there's Raptor X. It's probably too small a market segment to divide between several manufacturers.)

"they certainly don't as much as Hitachi or Seagate does."

AFAIK, Hitachi has most immaterial property of which most are inherited from IBM and only a small minority from Hitachi's old HDD division prior to merger. Seagate is the second biggest "innovator"... and they just bought some more intellectual property from Maxtor. The rest (Samsung, Fujitsu, Toshiba, etc.) have some patent but WD is really the "least innovative" in this field. They have even been a licence manufacturer for IBM in the past. And after ceasing to be a licence manufacturer, they still continued to use many part from other HDD manufacturers.

WD's innovation is unfortunately something they cannot licence to other manufacturers. They could be forced to pay licence fees for all their future perpendicular and thermally assisted drives, so maybe they'll be back into the factory-for-rent style of manufacturing... and/or make some clear cover variants of other manufacturer's drives under licence and rebranded under their own name. And that's probably the best case scenario. Worst case scenario would be bankruptcy.

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Guest 888

I think WD is on the way to its own specialized product segment. One thing is the unique Raptor of course. But WD just likes to put more attention to the ergonomical aspects of HDD - noise, thermal, outlook, reliability. WD's latest products have been very good in all these, in most cases even in leading position! And although they do not have the latest technology and the fastest platters, still thanks to the well optimized firmware, their new 7200rpm HDD series show very strong performance benchmarks, beating all other manufacturers except Hitachi. So, for consumer HDD market and especially for advanced computer fans, WD's HDDs are overally very good choice.

For me WD looks in its ideas something similar like Apple/Mac, covering a special smaller consumer segment where the ergonomics are essential and at the same time also pretty good performance. And Seagate is just like PC world & Microsoft, being large and famous but making just a huge mass production which in its way causes some specific problems (in example Seagate's production in 7200.8/9/10 series has many weird variations from batch to batch and has also experienced lot more than average reliability problems). And the last, although this is not very essential side of, somehow Seagate and Hitachi HDDs look out like designed in 1960s, being just the most uglier-looking computer component today.

Hopefully WD will survive. Just being somehow different from others.

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Well when it comes to hard drives I dont care much for ergonomics or looks, but my WD drives have been good and reliable for me. So I'm a satisfied WD customer and I really hope they dont go down the tubes any time soon.

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One thing is the unique Raptor of course.
This is about the only thing you've said that I would agree with. Yes, the Raptor is unique.
But WD just likes to put more attention to the ergonomical aspects of HDD - noise, thermal, outlook, reliability. WD's latest products have been very good in all these, in most cases even in leading position!
The WD drives are often fast, but they are rather poor at reliability. I build a lot of custom computer systems for clients. I've found out the hard way over the years that WD and Maxtor ATA / SATA drives are clearly less reliable than Hitachi, Seagate, and Samsung ATA / SATA drives. WD has great customer service though as they seem to have a LOT of experience at replacing failed drives.

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Guest 888
The WD drives are often fast, but they are rather poor at reliability. I build a lot of custom computer systems for clients. I've found out the hard way over the years that WD and Maxtor ATA / SATA drives are clearly less reliable than Hitachi, Seagate, and Samsung ATA / SATA drives.

We can't make conclusions on base "over the years". Yes, all that you said was generally true in about 2002...2004 and some years earlier. WD's earlier production was really very unreliable and one of the noisiest then. The things changed dramatically in 2005 with the implementation of new technologies. So, in my reference I was just talking about their new series which production started in 2005 and later and also the older series (same model numbers) which are produced in 2nd half of 2005 and later. If to take into account the 2005-2006 production only, then it may sound weird but all my distributors had relatively much more returns for Maxtor and Seagate[!] new drives than for WD and Hitachi new production. Samsung was just in the middle. Oh yes, the real situation is so much changing all the time that we never can make a decision based on brand or even based on model series. In today's HDD production strategies we must take into account [1] the brand + [2] the model series + [3] the model revision + [4] the manufacturing date (in 2 months segments) and then make comparisons. But in real life yes, unfortunately, just the brand name sells, the brand's earlier reputation sells, although the things may have changed overnight.

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If WD were to rely on the Raptor to stand out they could be in for a nasty surprise. The other manufacturers have performant 10k and 15k SCSI and SAS drives. It wouldn't take much effort to make a SATA model of those drives if they wanted to.

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The WD drives are often fast, but they are rather poor at reliability. I build a lot of custom computer systems for clients. I've found out the hard way over the years that WD and Maxtor ATA / SATA drives are clearly less reliable than Hitachi, Seagate, and Samsung ATA / SATA drives.

We can't make conclusions on base "over the years". Yes, all that you said was generally true in about 2002...2004 and some years earlier. WD's earlier production was really very unreliable and one of the noisiest then. The things changed dramatically in 2005 with the implementation of new technologies. So, in my reference I was just talking about their new series which production started in 2005 and later and also the older series (same model numbers) which are produced in 2nd half of 2005 and later. If to take into account the 2005-2006 production only, then it may sound weird but all my distributors had relatively much more returns for Maxtor and Seagate[!] new drives than for WD and Hitachi new production. Samsung was just in the middle. Oh yes, the real situation is so much changing all the time that we never can make a decision based on brand or even based on model series. In today's HDD production strategies we must take into account [1] the brand + [2] the model series + [3] the model revision + [4] the manufacturing date (in 2 months segments) and then make comparisons. But in real life yes, unfortunately, just the brand name sells, the brand's earlier reputation sells, although the things may have changed overnight.

True about WD's earlier drives. I have a 1.2GB model. Very loud. They also used the rather cheap covers all the way up until 2000 or later, with the simple top and tape around the edge. However, as far as their current products, they are no worse than anyone else. But just as I said earlier and others added to, they don't innovate (or, innovate in patents) which leaves them a step behind all the time. But not just that, they are simply the smallest and most vulnerable company. Seagate is too huge to knock down anytime soon, Hitachi and Samsung both have huge stakes in other industry, WD makes hard drives, much less, just 3.5 inch consumer drives (as well as the Raptor and some 2.5 inch laptop ones, both small potatoes in the grand scheme of things).

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In the short term, I think the merger could be good for WD. Seagate will not get 100% of Maxtor's market share, WD is sure to get a sizeable piece.

WD as a company is very lean and mean, and unlike Maxtor they are consistently profitable. It's true they don't spend much on R&D, but that's deliberate so they can maintain financial strength. Why invest in R&D when you can steal components, ideas, and technology from your competitors?

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Why invest in R&D when you can steal components, ideas, and technology from your competitors?

Perhaps you don't mean that literally. :)

U.S. Patents this year to date:

HGST - ...

Seagate - 143

WD - 94

Maxtor - ...

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The funny thing about the industry is no one really has secrets and everyone cross-licenses from everyone else. It's just a matter of degree and specifics. Someone once explained it's beneficial to have a bigger patent portfolio than your competitor so you can have more leverage when negotiating cross-licensing fees. Of course, sheer quantity of patents isn't enough; they have to be valuable patents and not just "method of using a swingset" or something. ;)

I suspect part of the reason it's so hard to keep secrets is there is a lot of movement of employees between firms. Employees tend to shuffle between the various HDD makers, taking their know-how with them.

Historically, mergers have always benefited the surviving companies. It happened after Seagate bought Conner, it happened again when Maxtor bought Quantum, and it is happening now with Seagate swallowing Maxtor.

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OEM builders like Dell, HP, Compaq, emachines etc will most likely not want to put all their eggs in one basket by only using Seagate/Maxtor drives. As far as I know, maxtor will only be sold as external drives and their internal drives will be scrapped.

This means that the manufacturers are likely to look to WD for more drives as they do not want to risk shortages, high failures and other things with just one manufacturer. It is risky business to rely on one company.

With Maxtor gone, there are now less options which will lead to more purchases of WD drives down the road.

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OEM builders like Dell, HP, Compaq, emachines etc will most likely not want to put all their eggs in one basket by only using Seagate/Maxtor drives. As far as I know, maxtor will only be sold as external drives and their internal drives will be scrapped.

This means that the manufacturers are likely to look to WD for more drives as they do not want to risk shortages, high failures and other things with just one manufacturer. It is risky business to rely on one company.

With Maxtor gone, there are now less options which will lead to more purchases of WD drives down the road.

Good point. It's traditionally been Seagate or Maxtor drives being thrown into OEM and PVR units. Though not always. My satellite receiver has a 250GB WD in it, a pleasant suprise when I found out. Not sure how common it is to find Hitachi drives in such devices.

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We can't make conclusions on base "over the years". Yes, all that you said was generally true in about 2002...2004 and some years earlier. WD's earlier production was really very unreliable and one of the noisiest then. The things changed dramatically in 2005 with the implementation of new technologies.

It's nice to know that WD has finally gotten out of their funk period. Starting around 1999, for me at least, I started getting stung by too many failing WD drives and by 2002 it simply became too much to deal with. Their warranty replacements were no better. Enough was enough. Maxtor was not too far behind. End of story.

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It's traditionally been Seagate or Maxtor drives being thrown into OEM and PVR units.

Really. FOr the past 5 years most hard disks I've seen in IBM PC's have been IBM/Hitachi (remarably low failure rates, even with 60 GXP's) and WD with a smattering of Seagate and almost no Quantum or Maxtor. I guess it depends on where you live and where the machines are assembled.

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It's traditionally been Seagate or Maxtor drives being thrown into OEM and PVR units.

Really. FOr the past 5 years most hard disks I've seen in IBM PC's have been IBM/Hitachi (remarably low failure rates, even with 60 GXP's) and WD with a smattering of Seagate and almost no Quantum or Maxtor. I guess it depends on where you live and where the machines are assembled.

Well IBM PCs I would guess would have a higher number of IBM/Hitachi drives. But we have had 5 PVRs over the past few years, all have had Seagates in them. Except the newest one with the WD in it of course. We had 2 HP computers, both Seagates. Friend with Emachines, Maxtor. Friend with Compaq, Maxtor. I just made a guess based on what i've seen and the assumption that Maxtor and Seagate could turn out more drives per month than WD could.

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We can't make conclusions on base "over the years". Yes, all that you said was generally true in about 2002...2004 and some years earlier. WD's earlier production was really very unreliable and one of the noisiest then. The things changed dramatically in 2005 with the implementation of new technologies.

It's nice to know that WD has finally gotten out of their funk period. Starting around 1999, for me at least, I started getting stung by too many failing WD drives and by 2002 it simply became too much to deal with. Their warranty replacements were no better. Enough was enough. Maxtor was not too far behind. End of story.

Is this the same Western Digital that had Raptors failing so fast in 2005 that it had a three month replacement backlog?

If we cannot draw any conclusions about a company based on its performance over the last decade, what can we base them on?

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We can't make conclusions on base "over the years". Yes, all that you said was generally true in about 2002...2004 and some years earlier. WD's earlier production was really very unreliable and one of the noisiest then. The things changed dramatically in 2005 with the implementation of new technologies.

It's nice to know that WD has finally gotten out of their funk period. Starting around 1999, for me at least, I started getting stung by too many failing WD drives and by 2002 it simply became too much to deal with. Their warranty replacements were no better. Enough was enough. Maxtor was not too far behind. End of story.

Is this the same Western Digital that had Raptors failing so fast in 2005 that it had a three month replacement backlog?

If we cannot draw any conclusions about a company based on its performance over the last decade, what can we base them on?

Not much. Things change too fast. After years, decades really, of perfect hard drives and amazing innovation, a single bad model ruined IBM's storage division. It wasn't ONLY the bad drive though, but IBM's handling of the issue that also sealed the coffin. The fact that WD, Seagate, Maxtor and Hitachi are still making drives and making the sales they do in 2006 says a few things itself

1. Their drives have, on average, been as good as or better than the previous makers that went bankrupt.

2. Had few or insignificant major problems with model lines

3. Their design teams are good, drive designs are well-engineered.

During the 80s and into the 90s, there were dozens, perhaps more than 100 companies making hard drives. By 1999, only a few remained (IIRC, there was Fujitsu, Quantum, Seagate, IBM, Maxtor, Samsung...perhaps a couple others). The only way for these manufacturers to survive is if their drives were better or their innovation was better, than the failed companies. Fujitsu had a string of bad drives, consumers called them on it and they quickly ducked out of the consumer IDE market. If you want to know if a Seagate, WD, Maxtor or Hitachi drive is more reliable than a Seagate, WD, Maxtor or Hitachi drive, it's extremely hard to say. Not only can we NOT use drives from previous years (which were designed by different people and could have been completely different drives, based on thin film or MR not GMR heads, based on ball bearings, not FDBs, cast with a completely different housing etc etc). We also cannot use a SINGLE model line. Problems with raptors were unrelated to other 3.5 inch IDE/SATA drives, they are COMPLETELY different drives. From the platters, slider design, motor, voice coil etc etc.

This whole thing with drives can be compared to cars. Before the war, there were MANY makers, some were just DREADFUL. None made it far past the war, unless the cars were really cheap or really well-built (for the time, of course). Though I don't consider GM to be a really high quality brand, there is no reason a car from GM can't last just as long as a car from Honda. I drive a Mitsu. Mitsubishi is generally considered the American Japanese maker, since it trails Honda and Toyota and usually Nissan/Mazda in quality. But it's also the smallest Jap maker. Mitsubishi is having financial problems, same with GM and Ford (perhaps not the problems Mitsu is having, but sales are way down). Chrysler is designed fresh cars quicker than Ford/GM. They are designing cars people want and their quality is up. Chrysler is not having problems.

We can also use Hyundai. Who used to make absolutely pathetic cars. Today, their cars can be fairly compared with most other Japanese cars, in terms of build quality (though it's still considered an "entry" brand). If we use Hyundai's history, as late as 5 years ago, it says nothing about their cars made today.

To wrap this soapbox up, a company making bad products in markets as competitive as hard drives or cars CANNOT survive.

Also, all makers do fairly extensive testing whenever a new product is introduced. If their tests showed major quality problems, they would never make it to the market. Which makes me question how cocky IBM was in the early 2000s.

Edited by K15

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Guest 888
Is this the same Western Digital that had Raptors failing so fast in 2005 that it had a three month replacement backlog?

Although I do not know the exact details and major problems with the Raptors, I think these in question may have been the Raptors manufactured in 2003-2004 and then failed just in 2005? Of course also the 2005-2006 Raptors are failing but my distributors' inside information indicates it to be just an average (which means reasonably "OK"). About that three month replacement backlog I have heard that it was just a problem related to bad work-organizing on WD company side. They said that "they are short of replacement drives" which may had been just a problem (delays) with refurbishing the RMA drives (as the first choice for RMA replacement drive is just the other refurb one). But I don't know exactly the real reason as I do not work for them (or any other HDD company).

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The WD drives are often fast, but they are rather poor at reliability. I build a lot of custom computer systems for clients. I've found out the hard way over the years that WD and Maxtor ATA / SATA drives are clearly less reliable than Hitachi, Seagate, and Samsung ATA / SATA drives.

We can't make conclusions on base "over the years".

In today's HDD production strategies we must take into account [1] the brand + [2] the model series + [3] the model revision + [4] the manufacturing date (in 2 months segments) and then make comparisons. But in real life yes, unfortunately, just the brand name sells, the brand's earlier reputation sells, although the things may have changed overnight.

No doubt about that. Remember Quantum? At one point IBM's were all the rage. Then came the Deathstar series. It's a continuously changing landscape where HDD manufacturers are concerned.

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Chrysler is not having problems.

Well they're more or less German cars these days...

That fact changes my comparison of car companies to drive companies how?

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Mitsubishi is generally considered the American Japanese maker, since it trails Honda and Toyota and usually Nissan/Mazda in quality.

I thought that this was because it was run by Chrysler, which, as previously noted, is really a German car company, having had the advantage of having the US government bail it out.

I don't know of any harddrive manufacturer who has had the US government bail it out and then been bought by a successful and deep-pocketed European rival.

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Mitsubishi is generally considered the American Japanese maker, since it trails Honda and Toyota and usually Nissan/Mazda in quality.

I thought that this was because it was run by Chrysler, which, as previously noted, is really a German car company, having had the advantage of having the US government bail it out.

I don't know of any harddrive manufacturer who has had the US government bail it out and then been bought by a successful and deep-pocketed European rival.

You are adding things to the discussion that are completely unrelated and that were never said. Flaming is bad,

http://www.boredreader.com/links.htm

Technique #5- Irrelevant Comments

Irrelevant comments serve to portray you as a Noble, Upstanding Person and/or to portray your antagonist as a No Good, Low Down Worthless Bastard. These comments are easy to come by, as they don't necessarily need to have any relevance to the Topic at Hand.

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Having said all that, it's laughable that Mitsubishi was ever "run" by Chrysler or that Chrysler is a German company. It is a German-American company. Mitsubishi and Chrysler made cars together under the brand name Eagle, they shared engines among themselves as well as other technology. This further discredits your argument into nothing more than pathetic flaming.

Edited by K15

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