The storage arm of Hitachi, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, has been bought by Western Digital for a combination of cash and shares totaling $4.3 billion. It was just last year that WD surpassed Seagate in terms of hard drives shipped, but both companies are facing a challenge as consumer and local storage trends more towards high-speed flash, leaving spinning drives in their dust.
There’s also cloud storage, but of course that relies on traditional spinning drives as well, since they still provide an excellent value for bulk storage. I don’t think they’re in danger there just yet.
What does this mean for consumers? Not a lot for now, but if all WD wanted to do was keep building big 3.5″ HDDs all year round, they would use that money to build factories. By acquiring Hitachi GST they’re also acquiring a lot of R&D and facilities. The next fight is probably creating a new standard for affordable bulk storage that doesn’t rely on a tech like spinning platters, something approaching endgame research-wise.
At all events nothing will happen for a year or two at least as the two companies learn to love one another, work out redundancies and hires, combine facilities, etc.