Western Digital's WD TV media player family just got a little bit better with the addition of streaming movie service Vudu. That's in addition to several new sports and entertainment services WD rolled out to the WD TB Live and WD TV Live Hub media players, both of which are already content rich with support for Netflix, Hulu Plus, Blockbuster, CinimaNow, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, Facebook, and a bunch of others.
Western Digital and Seagate are leaders in mechanical hard drives to be sure, but I think we can all agree this time they are leading the industry in a very negative direction. Back in 2008 Seagate lowered the standard HDD warranty from 5 years to 3, and as expected, just about everyone followed suit shortly after. Now they are dropping the coverage period on some products to as little as one year depending on the model.
It seems like every time we touch on the topic of hard drives lately, it's always bad news related to the recent flooding in Thailand. Ready for a change of pace? Good, because that's what you're getting today. Instead of news of more shortages and rising prices, we've now learned that hard drive volumes in the first quarter of 2012 will increase by several million units, decreasing the supply gap "significantly."
The European Union is notorious for being sticklers when it comes to how companies do business and is ever watchful for what it perceives to be a potential monopoly. Concerns aside, the EU just granted approval to Western Digital, the world's second largest hard drive maker, to purchase Hitachi's HDD business for $4.3 billion, with Hitach being the third biggest player in the HDD market.
Hard drive maker Western Digital announced this morning that on November 18, 2011, an arbitration award of $525 million was rendered against the company by a sole arbitrator in a pending confidential arbitration action in Minnesota brought on by Seagate. Not included in that amount is prejudgement interest, which will be determined and tacked on at a later date.
Now is not the time to buy a mechanical hard drive, not unless you absolutely have to. As you know, the recent flooding in Thailand hit the hard drive industry pretty hard (from a technology standpoint -- obviously the biggest tragedy here is the impact it had on people's lives), and even just a 1TB hard drive is going to set you back about $150 street, almost triple what they selling for prior to the flood. Is the shortage really that bad?
The impact of flooding in Thailand on PC inventories going into the holiday has been widely reported, but an obvious connection we’ve been missing has been raised by the New York Times, and it’s an important one. According to interviews conducted by Nick Bilton, cloud computing could grind to a halt early next year as storage prices skyrocket, and supply reaches historic lows. Flooding in the region has shuttered more than 1,000 factories, including several which are responsible for pumping out a significant percentage of the world’s mechanical hard drives.
A few days ago we were speculating, along with the rest of the web, that the massive flooding in Thailand could end up playing havoc with the mechanical drive industry. New images of Western Digital’s flagship production facility just barely above water have surfaced (no pun intended), along with dire predictions from CEO John Coyne. According to Coyne, the water damage will result in significantly reduced hard drive supplies going into 2012.
Severe flooding in Thailand forced Western Digital to temporarily close shop in its Bangkok facilities last week, and now that it's had time to assess the damage, things aren't looking so great. Western Digital issued a statement updating the situation today and said it expects the flooding to impede the company's ability to fulfill product demand through the end of the year.
As it turns out, Western Digital – despite its name – manufactures a lot of its HDDs in the Eastern hemisphere, namely Thailand and Malaysia. Severe flooding in Thailand has led the company to close its Bangkok facilities for an undetermined amount of time in order to protect the safety of its workers and factories – which could possibly affect HDD stocks in the next quarter.