Seagate Technology's recent buyout of Samsung Electronics' hard disk drive (HDD) business will considerably boost the newly merged entity's overall standing, with combined shipments accounting for two-fifths of an HDD market worth 652.4 million units in 2010, according to IHS iSuppli research.
Based on final year-end figures from 2010, HDD shipments tallied from both Seagate and Samsung equated to 261.2 million units – enough to give the combined companies 40% of the HDD market, or a number two finish for the year. Separately, Seagate's shipment share in 2010 showed 195.2 million units, while Samsung's HDD business brought in 66 million units. Without the merger, Seagate's shipment share of market would have stood at 30%, and that of Samsung would have topped out at 10%.
Even with the combined shipments, however, Western Digital retains overall market leadership in HDDs, the primary storage medium for desktops and most notebook computers. Only one month prior to the Seagate purchase, Western Digital had made its own acquisition by purchasing Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. Western Digital's shipments of 203.7 million units, together with Hitachi's 115.8 million, coalesced to produce total 2010 shipments of 319.5 million, putting owner Western Digital at number one in the HDD space with 50% market share.
With the completion of the two mergers, the HDD battleground has been effectively whittled down to just three players from five. Left standing far behind in third place is Toshiba/Fujitsu-itself the eponymous product of a merger in 2009. Toshiba/Fujitsu had shipments in 2010 of 71.7 million units, or 10% share of the HDD market.
"Overall, the reduction from five to three manufacturers considerably improves the stability and efficiency of the HDD industry," said Fang Zhang, analyst for storage systems at HIS iSuppli. "However, the acquisition also signals a recognition by Seagate and Samsung that conditions in the storage space will become more challenging in the future."
The transaction, valued at US$1.38 billion, enhances Seagate's access to Samsung's NAND flash technology and gives Seagate access to Samsung's clients in the Asia market. For Samsung, the acquisition reorients its storage focus on solid state drives, a rival technology for HDDs, while freeing the company to allocate resources and develop growth in other segments where the South Korea-based giant has interests, like the semiconductor foundry business.
By obtaining Samsung's HDD business, Seagate also has made great strides in closing the gap with its perennial competitor, Western Digital.
"Taken together, the mergers engineered by Seagate and Western Digital will be key to improving the sustainability of the HDD industry, HIS iSuppli believes, demonstrating the industry's nimble response to fast-occurring changes playing out in the storage environment," said Ryan Chien, researcher for memory and storage at IHS.