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Storage is such a dirty word in Silicon Valley. Everyone looks down on the disk drive makers with such scorn, and derision. Disk drive makers have such a thankless job – double the disk drive capacity in nine months, i.e. at a pace that is twice […]

Storage is such a dirty word in Silicon Valley. Everyone looks down on the disk drive makers with such scorn, and derision. Disk drive makers have such a thankless job – double the disk drive capacity in nine months, i.e. at a pace that is twice as fast as Moore’s Law. And they have to do it for meager profits. They sell so much and yet they make so little (or nothing) in profits. Take Western Digital as an example – it brought in $3.05 billion in sales but a mere $151 million in net income for fiscal 2004. Fo fiscal 2005, the company will sell $3.61 billion but profits are not going to be that spectacular. Seagate and Maxtor are faring no better. The constant fear of a price war doesn’t help matters either.

These negatives mask the fact that without disk drive makers and their own twist of Moore’s Law, all the bandwidth, processing oomph and clever ideas will amount to nothing. If there were no $50 dollar drives, Tivo cannot sell a $99-box. Without cheap drives, iPods would cost more than a week’s salary. And I for one would not be able to afford a terabyte home. What really got me thinking about this was Lee Gomes’ excellent column in Wall Street Journal about perpendicular storage, something I had written about last year as part of Business 2.0′s cover story, Seven Technologies That Change Everything.

I think one of things we tend to overlook when it comes to broadband or convergence is the role of storage. If there were no cheap drives to store those mp3 files, companies like Mercora just won’t be possible. Napster may have supercharged the demand for broadband, but it was storage that made it possible to share all that music. Similarly, BitTorrent might be a fantastic was to distribute digital content, but without storage, it really doesn’t amount to any thing. Maybe folks time to stop treating storage as the Rodney Dangerfield of technology!

  1. Hard Drives: A Near-Losing Venture

    Maybe I’m in the minority, but I have no sympathy for hard drive manufacturers’ low profits. Sure, the price war has made storage more affordable than ever, but Om is talking about Western Digital’s profits of only $151 million on…

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  2. IMHO storage will be a service or commodity like electricity, gas, or bandwith… storage manufacturers need to innovate beyond just “disk space” and “casing design”…

    Guarantee a drive for life, offer standout software solutions for pain-free backups, or make it all virtual and let me have a secure (and backed up) copy of all of my stuff (all of it – including DVDs, CDs, Photos, Software, etc…) somewhere where I can access it from anywhere on the planet… now I would pay for that…

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  3. [...] io, 2005 – 05:44 | Conversación de este post ¿Por qué los discos duros son tan malos? Ohm Malik apunta a un dato interesante: Western Digital vendió 3 mil [...]

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  4. what good is a link to a pdf behind a paywall?

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  5. They totally lack imagination in distinguishing themselves from the pack. I thought that some new built in flash caches were on the horizon that would speedup OS loading. There seems to be a lot of room for quieter and faster technologies. Everyone is very competitve about making the same exact thing. Never a broshure from these guys, no more television ads and few mag ads.

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  6. Holographic Storage will even drive the cost down
    further according to Colossal Storage.

    Sandisk Flashcard Solid State Drives will Cost $ 90.00 a Gigabyte versus the Hard Drive

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  7. [...] often ignored low-margin business. As mentioned before, from iPod to TiVo to our set-top boxes – everything is touched by storage.Times story reminded me of this quote from Storage maverick Al Shugart, who may have passed onto [...]

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  8. [...] 科技歷史: 紐約時報 有一篇關於講究硬碟不錯的文章,這篇文章提醒了我,我們的數位生活是如何地仰賴這個低利潤的產業,如同之前所提的,從 iPod 到 TiVo 到我們的設定盒 – 每件事都跟儲存有關。 [...]

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