Western Digital Wrests Hard Drive Shipment Crown From Seagate

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Western Digital shipped an estimated 51.5 million hard drives in the first quarter of 2010, compared to Seagate’s estimated shipments of 50.3 million drives, giving Western Digital the title of world’s largest hard drive manufacturer for the first time ever, according to iSuppli, an El Segundo, Calif.-based analyst firm.

For Western Digital, that represents a 61.7 percent growth over the 31.6 million drives it shipped in the first quarter of 2009, nearly double the 31.0 percent growth in Seagate’s shipments over the same period, iSuppli estimated.

Rounding out the list of top five vendors was Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, which shipped 28.7 million drives in the first quarter, followed by the new combined Toshiba/Fujitsu entity with shipments of 17.5 million drives, and Samsung Electronics with 15.5 million drives.

Fujitsu Limited in mid-2009 unveiled plans to transfer its hard-drive business to Toshiba, creating the world's largest manufacturer of mobile drives. The deal closed in October.

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However, while Western Digital outshipped Seagate during the quarter, Seagate outsold its storage arch-rival.

iSuppli estimated that Seagate’s hard drive sales revenue totaled $3.1 billion, compared to $2.6 billion for Western Digital, thanks to Seagate’s much larger enterprise hard drive business. Drives from Western Digital, on the other hand, featured a lower average selling price than Seagate’s drives, iSuppli said.

Fang Zhang, analyst for storage systems at iSuppli, said in a statement that production lines for both Seagate and Western Digital are currently tight due to seasonal demand, a situation which should ease somewhat during the second quarter.

The competition between the two should be intense going forward, Zhang said in that statement.

“Seagate will experience pressure from Western Digital in the battle for the top market position in the future,” Zhang said. “While the low-cost model might cost Western Digital some revenue, that same approach will be the company’s point of leverage in its quest to pick up more business so that it can undermine Seagate, iSuppli believes.”