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Hard drives healthy despite PC downturn

04 March 2014, 15:43 Duncan Alfreds

Cape Town - Despite the serious decline in PCs, the market for traditional hard drives remains robust, a manufacturer has insisted.

According to research firm Gartner, sales in traditional PCs have decline by 10% in 2013, the worst in the history of the industry.

"No, the traditional hard drive being the magnetic drive is still very much alive. It is still the core of Western Digital's business and will continue upward trends," Western Digital component manager Kalvin Subbadu told News24.

Some manufacturers have been hit hard by the decline in PC sales.

Lenovo was a winner among losers, according to Gartner. It maintained a slim 2.1% growth rate over 2012 numbers. It shipped 52 million units in 2013.

Battery life

Second place HP was knocked down from the top spot as it saw a significant 9.3% drop, but Acer is bleeding as it saw an erosion of 28.1% market share, Gartner found.

Some company like Fujitsu have turned to mobile technologies like smartphones and tablets as the company hopes to refocus itself to take advantage of a strong growth area.

Acer also launched a range of smartphones at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Its phones target developing markets at a $100 price point.

Mobile technologies do not require traditional hard drives and solid state drive technology (SSD) is also finding its way into laptops as manufacturers race to offer longer battery life and performance.

In developed markets like the US, France and Germany, the internet cloud has made data management more attractive because of lower cost.

However, Subbadu said that Western Digital was focused on developing markets irrespective of international trends.

"Africa has become a key market hence Western Digital has invested in South Africa. Western Digital sees SA as an emerging market with huge growth and has nothing to do with the US and Europe going to cloud."

Tech dumping

He conceded that the PC market was in decline, but argued that hard drive sales alone were not a health indicator for the industry.

"A good portion of hard drive sales go for upgrades or white box builds. Whilst the PC market seems to declining tremendously, we are still experiencing growth of HDD sales," said Subbadu.

He assured South Africans that there would be no technology dumping in the country, as far as Western Digital was concerned.

Tech dumping occurs when a company sells redundant technology in developing markets as a way to boost sales. An example in SA would include the sale of DVD VHS combination units in the late 1990s.

"We are privy to the latest technology when available, there are no restrictions on what SA can or cannot sell in terms of technology," Subbadu said.

He warned that companies who participated in tech dumping should be exposed and stopped.

"We do see however smaller resellers who want to make the extra 'buck' importing gray products and this disrupts the channel sometimes due to old technology brought in at a lower price. Western Digital has a very solid stance on this and we endeavour to ensure these kinds of products or companies are eradicated and stopped."

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