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Will Toshiba HDD Survive the HDD Market
Nearly a year after announcing plans to purchase Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST), in March 2012 Western Digital completed the acquisition of Hitachi‘s hard disk drive business. The buy follows Seagate‘s December 2011 purchase of Samsung‘s hard disk drive division. And just like that, the hard disk drive (HDD) market went from five major manufacturers to three. With Seagate and Western Digital each holding a more than 40% share after the deals, the two US-centric companies are set to do battle in an industry that is projected to reel in more than $28 billion in computer HDD sales in 2012.

Toshiba is the third, relatively minor, player in the market. The company will make up some ground when it buys Western Digital’s 3.5 inch disk drive assets, required before European and Chinese regulators would approve the Western Digital deal. Toshiba is also the only supplier of 1.8-inch HDDs, suitable for tablets targeting business applications but also vulnerable to replacement by flash memory. Even so, Toshiba will be left with a tiny slice of the pie.

Toshiba’s situation is only sustainable if the company can nimbly establish viable niche markets where the other players are not participating or if it can gain some market share from Hitachi GST or Samsung that would otherwise go to Seagate or Western Digital. Past mergers indicate that this could happen but seldom has the industry hosted two mergers of this size simultaneously.

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