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WD says ultrabooks will have no impact on SSD sales

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HDDs, SSDs and Hybrid Drives all important

Western Digital, one of the world's largest hard drive manufacturers based out of Southern California, has taken the position that the ultrabook form factor will not boost the popularity or sales of Solid State Disks (SSDs), regardless of Intel's "high performance, low power consumption" strategy.

The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas had two major trends this year - ultrabooks and Smart HDTVs. Intel's $300 million ultrabook funding program, initiated in August 2011, had finally come to bear fruit on the market as we saw multiple PC vendors pushing out ultra-sleek, ultra-lightweight designs based on Intel 32nm and 22nm processor models, the majority of which are sporting solid state disks.

Nevertheless,  WD CEO John Coyne expects to see a world where traditional hard drives and hybrid drives continue holding significant marketshare in the mobile industry. "I expect ultrabooks to have traditional hard drives, hybrid hard drives and SSDs. [...] We think that the SSD penetration profile will be in very low single digits in a mature ultrabook environment. We see an emerging position for hybrids a little early to develop a view on exactly what percentage of penetration, but we see hybrids as a very compelling alternative on the performance side to solid-state on bang for the buck. We anticipate that in large capacity environments, traditional hard drives will continue to be the compelling solution," said John Coyne, chief executive officer of WD, during the most-recent conference call with financial analysts.

The global HDD supply chain has been facing severe shortages in recent months due to natural flooding disasters in Thailand, where the majority of manufacturing operations are held by multiple companies. Western Digital said on Monday that it was continuing to ramp up HDD production and had resumed manufacturing "sliders" - a critical component of HDD assembly where the drive's headers are mounted for read / write operations. Previously, slider operations had been suspended since October 10, 2011.

The Southern California-based company expects its operations will be at 60-percent capacity during Q1 2012 and should fully resume back to normal (58 million drives per quarter) during Q3 2012. Furthermore, the company expects its suppliers should be back to pre-flood operations by Q2 2012.


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