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A Year After Thailand Flooding, Hard Drive Prices Remain High

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the what-the-market-will-bear dept.

Businesses 214

crookedvulture writes "Last October, Thailand was hit by massive flooding that put much of the world's hard drive industry under water. Production slowed to a crawl as drive makers and their suppliers mopped up the damage, and prices predictably skyrocketed. One year later, production has rebounded, with the industry expected to ship more drives in 2012 than it did in 2011. For the most part, though, hard drive prices haven't returned to pre-flood levels. Although 2.5" notebook drives are a little cheaper now than before the flood, the average price of 3.5" desktop drives is up 35% from a year ago. Prices have certainly fallen dramatically from their post-flood peaks, but the rate of decline has slowed substantially in recent months, suggesting that higher prices are the new norm for desktop drives."

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214 comments

Why not? (5, Insightful)

Severus Snape (2376318) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933835)

If they can get away with charging the extra, they are hardly going to reduce their profit margins now.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933951)

If they can get away with charging the extra, they are hardly going to reduce their profit margins now.

If that's the case, why didn't they just "charge extra" before the floods? And why would they drop the price for the 2.5" drives, but keep the 3.5" at the high price?

Re:Why not? (4, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934015)

It kind of reminds me of the practices of local gas pumps...well, some of them anyway. When the prices on the international crude oil market go up, they raise their prices. Whey they go down again, they reduce their prices. Only the latency in the former case is noticeably smaller. ;) Bastards.

Re:Why not? (1)

Shrike Valeo (2198124) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934069)

why didn't they just "charge extra" before the floods?

They didn't have an excuse they could fall back on if they ramped them up with no reason?

Despite their operations returning to normal, it might be a case of demand still not meeting the supply. If people are willing to pay more, how often do you hear "since we've knocked the prices up lately, we'll just slash them anyway"

Re:Why not? (2, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934207)

why didn't they just "charge extra" before the floods?

They didn't have an excuse they could fall back on if they ramped them up with no reason?

No excuse is needed. Public companies have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders to maximize profits. If they were knowingly selling for less that the market would bear, without a sound strategic reason, they would be guilty of misconduct. Since most (all?) of these drives are imported, selling below the fair market price could also be illegal under various "anti-dumping" laws.

Re:Why not? (3, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934521)

The market is much less willing to bear arbitrary price jacking than price jacking related to a major event.

Re:Why not? (4, Insightful)

oxdas (2447598) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934685)

Public companies do NOT have a fiduciary duty to maximize profits, only to follow the company charter. Even in the most often cited case creating fiduciary responsibility to maximize profits, Dodge v. Ford Motor Company (1919), the court said this in regards to Henry Ford's desire to reduce the price of his cars for his stated, purely altruistic, motives (and in doing so cancel a special dividend to his shareholders):

" We do not draw in question, nor do counsel for the plaintiffs do so, the validity of the general proposition stated by counsel⦠that although a manufacturing corporation cannot engage in humanitarian works as its principal business, the fact that it is organized for profit does not prevent the existence of implied powers to carry on with humanitarian motives such charitable works as are incidental to the main business of the corporation."

My primary problem with your position is not that it is factually wrong (even though it is), but that "maximizing profits" is a purely subjective term and an impossible goal. Short-term and long-term profits have mutually exclusive components. For example, cutting r&d or laying off staff raises profits in the short term, but may lead to declining profits in the long term. Depending on your point of view, any corporate action could be construed as not maximizing profits.

Re:Why not? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934491)

With all those corporations/governments wanting to keep taps on us, ISP keeping logs etc., I don't think the demand is going to be low.

Re:Why not? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934415)

Because the equiibrium was lower. Now one of the few players would have to charge less, but they have no incentive to do so. Game theory at work.

Re:Why not? (3, Interesting)

Smallpond (221300) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934589)

Because the equiibrium was lower. Now one of the few players would have to charge less, but they have no incentive to do so. Game theory at work.

Exactly. When their costs went up they all had to raise prices but when costs go down they can all wait for someone else to lower prices first. No collusion or cartel is required.

Re:Why not? (4, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934725)

Because they actually had real competition before? Before the flood there were FOUR hard drive manufacturers, Seagate, WD, Samsung, and Hitachi, now there is only WD and Seagate. Since there is only two they will simply watch and match each other's prices, nice way to have a duopoly.

But this is why competition is so important, just look at how quickly prices are falling and sizes growing in SSDs whereas with HDDs they seem to be stagnant, that's because as long as they simply match each other's prices they don't have to worry about price wars since its only the two of them.

Re:Why not? (2, Interesting)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934905)

But where this model fails is in the standard assumption that volume never changes, and this is wrong. Pre-flood I bought a 2 TB external HDD for my DirecTV DVR for ~$90. My 1 TB external HDD that I use for backups has been at it's limit for a while; in fact, I've been having fun finding all the stuff that I really don't need to backup. A few weeks ago I found archives that were truly worthless and saved myself about 300 (uncompressed) MB. If the price of a 2 TB external HDD had fallen to it's previous level, I would have just bought one and not bothered. I suspect I'm not the only person doing these kinds of activities. Yes, I realize I am a minority of the market, but in sum, we're probably talking about a substantial total volume of HDDs not being purchased.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934219)

It's also easier for them to collude with only 3 manufacturers left. All the others were bought up by the three.

What? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933851)

Before the flooding, I bought a 1TB drive for ~$85. During the flooding, I saw those jump to ~$135. Last week, I bought a 1TB for $70.

They're still high?

Re:What? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933927)

You overpaid pre-flood. Pre-flood, you could get 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM for around $60-$70. Now it's about $90-$100 and usually with a shorter warranty duration than pre-flood.

All I'm gonna say is these higher prices better result in the new technologies (HARM/BPM/etc) coming to market.

Re:What? (2)

patchmaster (463431) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934737)

Pre-flood, you could get 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM for around $60-$70.

Nonsense. I was building a big server around that time and was keeping a very close eye on prices. The cheapest I ever saw was $89, and that was for a 5400RPM drive, not a 7200RPM. And the $89 was a sale.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933989)

2 TB drives went for that much before the flooding. Now they are still $30 more than before. Not as gougy as it was but not down to where they were. It also doesn't help when companies buy out competitors like has been happening.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934309)

May 2011 Newegg had Samsung F4 2TB [newegg.com] for $69.99; currently they're at $129.99

Re:What? (3, Informative)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934587)

I bought a pair of WD 3TB [camelegg.com] drives just before the flood. They cost me about euro 125 each, and the cheapest price hereabouts today is almost euro 140 [tietokonekauppa.fi]. Note that these prices are not exactly comparable to the US prices, due to currency exchange and high VAT.

Re:What? (2)

tloh (451585) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934049)

Yeah, I have been watching prices as well and I've observed that, although slightly inconsistent, they do seem to be normalizing. Last week, I snagged a deal at newegg for less than $45/TB for a 3TB external. Some in the comments revealed that upon cracking open the enclosure, the actual drive is one of the vendor's fastest model. Bought separately, the bare drive would have costed $30 more. It is unclear to me at this point what is actually happening, but I'm happy to have bought a HD at a reasonable price.

Re:What? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934327)

If it's a Seagate 7200.14 then no, they're not the same.
The variant they put in external enclosures is crippled via firmware to 150MB/s max transfer rate and has ~24ms average access time.
The noncrippled ones do >200MB/s on the outer cylinders and ~18ms avg access time.

Re:What? (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about a year and a half ago | (#41935173)

Yeah, I didn't RTFA, but at least in the Fry's/Best Buy ads of the week, the drives seem to have come down to about the same price.

There was a 4 TB drive at Fry's for under $200 a few weeks ago. External 2 TB drives are showing up at $89.

Re:What? (2)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934065)

You got a bad deal beforehand, I was buying my 1 TB drives for $50.

Re:What? (0)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934071)

Also keep in mind Moore's Law.

Re:What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934239)

What does Moore's law have to do with this? There are not a large number of transistors on the hard drives they are talking about here.

Re:What? (0)

Pope (17780) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934785)

Also keep in mind Moore's Law.

Which has absolutely nothing to do with hard drives.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934115)

How long pre-flood did you buy the first drive?

Here's a price history [camelegg.com] on a Seagate 1TB drive. Pre-flood the per-unit price averaged $55 with occasional (sale) dips down to $40. Today it's sitting at $70, down from a post-flood high of $140.

Re:What? (2)

gman003 (1693318) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934183)

The price of the same drive has dropped, but the average price has not. Logical conclusion then is that people are buying more expensive drives than before.

It actually makes some sense given the rise of SSDs. People who would have been satisfied with a small hard drive are now opting to get a similarly-sized but far faster SSD. So the bottom end of the market has shrunk, moving the average up.

That's just my conjecture, but it seems logical. The best way to test would be to compare similar market segments - compare the prices and volume of the current highest-capacity 7200RPM drive to the 2011 highest-capacity 7200RPM drive, and so on. If sales of the small (250GB) drives, particularly 2.5" 5400RPM models, has slowed, it might explain why the average has increased.

Re:What? (1)

JoshRosenbaum (841551) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934285)

As has been mentioned already, you could get 2TB for that price back then. You are also forgetting that after a year, you would be able to get more TB for the same price. Given that, you would think you could get 2.5TB or more for ~$85 now, but that is certainly not the case.

Pine for the old days... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933857)

Remember Desktops are no longer whats cool, everyone seems to want a laptop/tablet/phone. Make sense that prices would rise if there is less demand for 3.5 drives, thus less companies producing an item.

Re:Pine for the old days... (1)

csubi (950112) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933923)

I doubt that desktop PCs are the biggest market for 3.5" HDDs, just as I don't believe data centers are filled up with 2.5"/SSD drives...

Re:Pine for the old days... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934277)

Data centers aren't filled with 3.5" SATA 7200 RPM drives, either. They all have 10k RPM SAS drives.

Re:Pine for the old days... (3, Informative)

hjf (703092) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934499)

I'm 100% certain Facebook and Google don't need the RAW SPEEDZ 10k SAS gives, but the sheer size and small price of 3.5 SATA

Re:Pine for the old days... (1)

jandrese (485) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934471)

You would be surprised how many rack servers come with 2.5" drives these days. It's a fairly popular option, even though it means a lot less storage and speed for your buck.

Re:Pine for the old days... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41935023)

even though it means a lot less storage and speed for your buck.

Capacity maybe, speed not so much. Compare the iops/disk yield between a 2.5 10k sas and a 3.5 15k sas and its negligible. At the same spindle speed the 2.5 wins unless you short-stroke the 3.5.

But you can fit double the spindles in the same rack space. More spindles yields higher iops, in less rack space, and uses less power. I wonder why the the 2.5" drives are a popular option...

   

Re:Pine for the old days... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934203)

Post-PC world, grandpa. Throw that clunky shit in the dumpster!

Re:Pine for the old days... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934417)

Stick that iproduct up your ass sonny Jim. Also get off my lawn, pull up your pants, turn it down!

Re:Pine for the old days... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934839)

Get some Viagra for that limp dick, gramps, and then your wife wouldn't have to fuck Nigga Tyrone while your away.

Re:Pine for the old days... (2)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934913)

The Cloud isn't fast enough or reliable enough for your Post-PC fantasy to be a reality at this point. Non-trivial amounts of local storage are still needed.

Even if it were otherwise, you still might not be comfortable with a government that claims you have no ownership interest in files.

Not Actually...$0.058 per GB Isn't Bad... (2)

ilikenwf (1139495) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933931)

Sale is over, but Newegg sold 1TB Hitachi DeskStars, which actually are reliable now (I have some that have been spinning nonstop for 2 years) for $60 apiece. That's around $0.058 per gigabyte before formatting...not bad at all. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822145304 [newegg.com]

Yes, while the regular price is $80, you've always had to get drives when they're on sale if you want a really good deal, anyway. Same actually goes for SSDs.

Re:Not Actually...$0.058 per GB Isn't Bad... (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934029)

A year ago you could get 1.5TB for that price.

Re:Not Actually...$0.058 per GB Isn't Bad... (2)

ilikenwf (1139495) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934081)

There were 1.5TB WD Green drives for $65...I just didn't want a slow green drive...and I heard they aren't as good for RAID.

By the way, my DeskStar has 5 year warranty...

Re:Not Actually...$0.058 per GB Isn't Bad... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934591)

It's not so much the formatting that eats the space but the fact that they sell HDDs by powers of 10 (1K = 1000) while the rest of the computing universe—including the Free Space dialog on your computer—uses powers of 2 (1K = 1024). Combine with several orders or magnitude and you 'lose' 90 GB on your TB HDD.

But SSD prices failing every week (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933945)

Good old mechanical hard drives will be around for a long time but at least the flood sparked some serious competition with pricing in the SSD market.

Cost-based Pricing vs. Value-based Pricing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933963)

don't assume that manufacturers should set price based on 'cost plus some margin percentage'. The goal is to price based on 'value' which is a) a lot more nebulous and subjective than cost-plus, and b) tied to their marketing pitch (value proposition). Costs may be decreasing but if they keep pricing constant they get to see increased margins. Who would want to give that up?

Re:Cost-based Pricing vs. Value-based Pricing (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934805)

"Free Market" capitalism requires cost plus pricing only. If value pricing exists, you do not, by definition, have a free market. People get confused about "free market" all the time.

Re:Cost-based Pricing vs. Value-based Pricing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934957)

More specifically, competition drives prices downwards towards 'cost', while low profits drive competitors out of the market, leading to a dynamic equilibrium of 'cost plus a modest profit'.

Re:Cost-based Pricing vs. Value-based Pricing (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#41935145)

Where the "plus" equals the cost of capital plus a "risk" value. In a truly "Free Market" all investments would return the same over a long period because the risk value would average out. But we don't have a free market, so the profit levels are higher to lure more money from investors into ownership, rather than bonds and savings.

They're not coming down (4, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933997)

I feel sorry for the people who think prices will go back to what they were.

Re:They're not coming down (2)

jandrese (485) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934497)

I don't see why not. The flood didn't knock any of the companies out entirely AFAIK, so the same market forces that originally pushed hard drives down to bargain basement prices are still there. It does take time, and the companies involved probably can't slash their prices quite as much right now because they have to pay for repairing flood damage and missed sales. Give it another year or two and prices should settle back into the old pattern I bet.

Re:They're not coming down (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934945)

I feel sorry for people who are as short-sighted as you are.

Re:They're not coming down (1)

rwise2112 (648849) | about a year and a half ago | (#41935001)

I feel sorry for the people who think prices will go back to what they were.

Exactly! As long as SSDs are more expensive, we aren't likely to see them come down.

intelligent design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934023)

gas /oil companies do it why not pc peeps.
YUP you too can raise prices and slow your sales ....yes intelligent design my ass....

You mean highER, not high (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934047)

They're still absurdly cheap, or at least from the PoV of anyone who remembers more than a few years ago.

Yes, accurate. (3, Informative)

DarthVain (724186) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934085)

I bought a 2TB WD for 69.99 pre-flood. They are still about 100$ right now (95.99$). So yeah, 30-35% over what they used to cost.

About the only glimmer of hope is that the 3TB has come down in price to about 130$ (129.99$).

So the 3TB is 0.043 a GB and the 2TB is 0.05 a GB whereas it was 0.035 for a 2TB pre flood.

So in larger format drives it is still approching the older pricing at a somewhat faster rate.

That said, the unwritten rule about just about ANY computer technology is that wait a few months and whatever it is will be cheaper. HD's have bucked that trend due to the flood, and the (all) companies profiteering from it. That is what you get when you have an industry that has consolidated and consolidated until there are only a few companies out there. The BIG question out there is if there is any intentional collusion going on to keep prices high, much like just about everyone suspects of oil, but nothing is ever done.

Re:Yes, accurate. (3, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934615)

not collusion but more like why spend all this money to rebuild a factory or bring a flooded factory to 100% of pre-flood capacity if the prices will only drop?

they rebuilt enough capacity to just meet demand and that's it

Re:Yes, accurate. (2)

ByteSlicer (735276) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934675)

That said, the unwritten rule about just about ANY computer technology is that wait a few months and whatever it is will be cheaper.

Not entirely accurate. You will get more (bytes, pixels, features) for the same price.
Items that were sold before will get cheaper, but will disappear from the market as soon as they hit some threshold price and are replaced by the next generation.

Lack of competition, recapitalization (4, Insightful)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934103)

I think it is just a sign that the market is no longer really competitive. There are too few vendors left in the business (basically what, 3 actual manufacturers are left now at this point).

Frankly I doubt this is going to continue for long. With more and more storage moving online (much more efficient use of drives on average), less desktops, movement of desktop and laptop storage to SSDs with falling SSD prices there is just not going to be the demand long-term. In fact the increased prices right now may just represent a need for these businesses to recapitalize and drive R&D. The only justification for hard drives is going to be sheer size (IE mb/$, mb/m^3, mb/watt) and that requires a lot of R&D to keep driving those numbers in a positive direction.

Re:Lack of competition, recapitalization (2)

dinfinity (2300094) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934787)

Yep: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_defunct_hard_disk_manufacturers [wikipedia.org]
And Toshiba has only about 10% of the market: http://www.tomshardware.com/news/wd-seagate-toshiba-hdd-hard-drives,17227.html [tomshardware.com]

I'm not so sure about the imminent demise of the spinning platter. Homemade video (didn't GoPro release a 1080p60-cam recently?) and high-res photo's are still on the rise and the existing data isn't going anywhere. Well, the stuff that people really care about, at least. I wouldn't trust any childhood memories to the cloud.

Of course, other high data density technologies (which flash is not, or so I've been told) could supplant the spinning platter. I'm not aware of any commercially viable ones, though.

Re:Lack of competition, recapitalization (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934907)

Yeah, luckily all the online storage doesn't use hard drives!

(p.s. you're a moron)

Re:Lack of competition, recapitalization (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934931)

" With more and more storage moving online (much more efficient use of drives on average), less desktops, movement of desktop and laptop storage to SSDs with falling SSD prices there is just not going to be the demand long-term."

Yes, that'll be it! With all the storage 'online', I guess the 'online' storage won't require hard drives, will it! It will just magically be stored 'in the cloud', which doesn't use hard drives, according to cretins like you. You moron.

Re:Lack of competition, recapitalization (1)

defcon-11 (2181232) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934995)

3.5" platter drivers are not exactly a hot growth area. The big HDD manufacturers had state of the art, super efficient assembly lines, but they are probably unwilling to spend the money required to get back to 100%, since investing the same amount of money in SSD assembly would likely have a much bigger payoff. If I was an HDD company I would spend just enough to get HDD assembly back to 80%, while investing the rest in growth areas like SSD.

Re:Lack of competition, recapitalization (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41935071)

Or we're just seeing that your typical nerd's understanding of economics uses a retarded model that has no concept of time. Price velocity is not infinite during times of change.

Re:Lack of competition, recapitalization (4, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | about a year and a half ago | (#41935083)

I think it is just a sign that the market is no longer really competitive. There are too few vendors left in the business (basically what, 3 actual manufacturers are left now at this point).

Arguably, the state of the HDD industry before the flooding was that it was too competitive. It had some of the lowest margins in the tech industry, resulting in big research names like IBM deciding it wasn't worth it and jettisoning its entire storage division (sold it to Hitachi, who after a decade decided the same and sold it to WD).

So the pricing we're seeing now may actually be closer to where prices should have been for a thriving industry. We're not down to 2.5 manufacturers (Toshiba doesn't make 3.5" drives) because of some grand conspiracy to corner the market on HDDs. We're there because HDD prices were too low for all the other manufacturers to stay afloat, resulting in them merging and being acquired. The extremely low margins meant the process overshot, and there are now fewer manufacturers than you'd expect in a healthy industry.

Re:Lack of competition, recapitalization (1)

mu51c10rd (187182) | about a year and a half ago | (#41935121)

Perhaps...but where do you think the cloud vendors get their storage drives from? Just shifting from the consumer to the provider market.

Hard drives have been a money losing business (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934109)

Considering how ruthless the hard drive business has been for the three decades, let the manufacturers make some money.

Re:Hard drives have been a money losing business (1)

Zeromous (668365) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934263)

Ruthless indeed. In 1997 my 3.8GB drive cost 495$ Cdn. The very next year 9 and 18GB drives were cheaper that below 500$. Double capacity /80% of price. Obviously a new generation of devices but imagine the race to the bottom that gen was.....

Re:Hard drives have been a money losing business (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934831)

Bah, in the 80s I paid $400+ for a 20 MB HD, and was glad to have that over the 10 MB that was $300+

Re:Hard drives have been a money losing business (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934841)

At that point in time you were paying for vast amounts of R&D (i mean, they went from 3.8gb to 3000gb in a little over 10 years...)

These days the only drives that approach 500 dollars is SSD. Which are the modern R&D sink.

Sometimes Companies Never Recover (3, Insightful)

carrier lost (222597) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934143)

It's quite possible that there might have been some HDD or sub-assembly mfgrs who were just hanging on, what with the constant shrinking in the desktop market.

The flood might have just pushed some of them over the edge, so to speak.

Convenient Exit (1)

Dr. Evil (3501) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934543)

I think it's simpler.

The technology was in danger of being replaced with SSDs. You would be CRAZY to create a new HDD plant at this point.

If I were a manufacturer, I would put the insurance money into expanding SSD production. The flood is a golden opportunity to retool.

The only thing that sucks for consumers is that production dropped a couple years before it should have. It pushes prices of HDDs up, but pushes SDDs down.

Re:Convenient Exit (1)

carrier lost (222597) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934689)

The technology was in danger of being replaced with SSDs. You would be CRAZY to create a new HDD plant at this point.

I think it might be a combination of both - inability to recover and/or shrewd reasoning.

After all, there's still a market for tape drives, indicating that no matter how fast, light and cheap SSDs become, HDDs might still offer an attractive alternative (especially with new media technologies).

Can you ever have too much storage?

Inflation (2, Insightful)

hackus (159037) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934179)

If you are pricing the hard drives in Federal Reserve notes, you are going to find that although the floods did have a market response to prices, something has also happened in the past several months.

The Federal Reserve Note is dying. Purchasing power of the dollar is being cut drastically in just about all areas not just hard drives.

I doubt it will improve any time soon. One use to be able to track gold and silver to get a pretty good guess on the health of a fiat currency. Now, that is pretty much impossible to do due to the enormous amount of corruption in the exchanges going on during the past several years since the crash.

In fact I would expect the prices to not return to last years levels, and actually increase like many items that are currently doing the same thing.

-Hack

Re:Inflation (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934371)

The Federal Reserve Note is dying. Purchasing power of the dollar is being cut drastically in just about all areas not just hard drives.

Inflation is very low by historical standards. Since the floods, the dollar has been flat against the baht and yen, and has risen against the euro. We haven't been doing quite as well against the Swiss franc, but we don't buy HDDs from Switzerland.

Re:Inflation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934717)

Since I'm not inclined to sign in to Slashdot to post more than once:

Austrian economics FTW.

The Austrian economic model is demonstrably stupid, but the Keynesian model is utterly ridiculous. Reality lies in the middle of both, but both camps are too stupid to figure that out.

Inflation is very low by historical standards

That may be true, but inflation is still outpacing gains in income by a large margin. Don't believe me? Search the Bureau of Labor Statistics for "real average hourly wages", which reports hourly wages in constant 1982-1984 dollars adjusted by the Consumer Price Index (i.e., inflation). (The press release includes trailing three months plus the same month in the previous year, but a little more digging will yield the monthly numbers since March of 2006.) Hourly income has DROPPED pretty much continuously since Jan 2009.

So while you are trying to rebut the OP, unfortunately the facts are essentially on his side. Your dollar is worth less than it was four years ago.

Re:Inflation (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934743)

Which inflation metric is that? The bogus official number that excludes Food, Energy and housing? The 3 things that everyone cares about.

Re:Inflation (2, Insightful)

Maltheus (248271) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934819)

Throughout most of America's history there was hardly any inflation at all. Now, you'd be hard pressed to find a food or energy product (necessary basics) that hasn't doubled in price over the past 10 years.

The CPI calculations were so heavily rigged by the Carter and Regan administrations, that they no longer have any basis in reality.

Its the economy (2, Insightful)

randomErr (172078) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934223)

In the US we has some thing called QE2 and QE3. QE stand for Quantitative Easing [wikipedia.org]. The practice is to have a central bank but up assets of a failing companies and print money to pay for it. Printing the money causes inflation. This probably is the easiest way to explain [youtube.com] was inflation.

Our money is worth less now. So it takes more cash to buy the same amount of goods. The cost is compounded by other factors like shipping and labor.

Unfortantley for the United States QE3 is now unlimited. QE1 and QE2 both had ceiling so we could only cause so much inflation on ourselves. But with QE3 our central bank, The Federal Reserve, has an unlimited ability to print as much money as it wants.

Re:Its the economy (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934569)

Our money is worth less now.

No it isn't. Most HDDs are made in Japan and Thailand. Since the floods, the dollar has not declined against either the yen or baht. US domestic inflation is very low, and Japan has actually had deflation (negative inflation) since the flood. So a dollar should buy more, not less.

Re:Its the economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41935093)

And yet it doesn't. Which means it has declined, regardless of all other claims. Even if you can convert to yen and get a better deal, the dollars still suck more than they used to.

Re:Its the economy (4, Interesting)

TopSpin (753) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934701)

QE3 is $40E+9 per month. Helicopter Ben is monetizing (printing) about 37% of our deficit. This eventuality has been predicted for the US for decades. Buy gold with cash and hide it.

However, that's probably not the reason for the pricing histogram in the linked story. The prices of some models have fallen while others have remained high. That differential wouldn't exist if it were exclusively due to currency; exchange rates make no distinction between popular 2.5" disks and everything else.

The models where prices have fallen are the high volume models that OEMs install in laptops and DVRs. Everything else remains expensive.

That actually makes a lot of sense. OEMS buy those 2.5" drives under contract in large quantities. These are the lines that got highest priority to recover after the flood, so the supply of these parts recovered quicker and prices have fallen faster.

Basically the flood caused a realignment of resources and this is reflected in the prices we see now.

a page from the oil companies' book (4, Insightful)

technosaurus (1704630) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934269)

Its a pretty simple strategy. Buy out as much of the competition as possible to help control supply. If anything causes increased demand or short supply, raise prices immediately and then only lower them when absolutely necessary to keep regulators off your back. Does this sound like gas prices? I think so. Remember when diesel prices were lower than gas at least all summer? It may not be a monopoly, but when a few major companies own the market and have an unwritten non-compete agreement, it may as well be (recall a similar issue the lcd monitor price fixing case)

Re:a page from the oil companies' book (2)

green1 (322787) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934673)

Just to be clear, I agree with your overall point, but your view of diesel vs gas seems to be skewed. Diesel prices should be lower than gas, diesel takes less work to refine than gasoline. Around here diesel is cheaper than gas all summer, but equal price or more expensive all winter (the same production lines used to refine diesel are used to refine heating oil for the east coast, so demand goes up in the winter)

Also warranties suck now (5, Informative)

citylivin (1250770) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934379)

I have also noticed that you are paying a huge premium now for even a 3 year warranty. Most seagate drives now come with a ridiculous 1 year warranty on them, so I wont even look at them any more. WD is not much better, with their green drives being 1-2 years. If you want 3-5 year you are paying 50% more for the drive. For example a 2tb WD black (5 year warranty) has a non sale price of $199 ( http://www.ncix.com/products/?sku=58376&vpn=WD2002FAEX&manufacture=Western%20Digital%20WD&promoid=1230 [ncix.com] ) whereas the same drive albeit "green" with a 2 year warranty is $119 non sale price ( http://www.ncix.com/products/?sku=62047&vpn=WD20EARX&manufacture=Western%20Digital%20WD&promoid=1230 [ncix.com] ).

Its a shame because I was looking at old invoices and in 2010 I was buying 2tb drives with 3 year warranties standard for 80 bucks.

Sure they claim to have more "features" with their different colour codes, but it does seem like they just decided 3 years should no longer be industry standard for a warranty. Probably some sort of collusion as they all pretty much changed their warranties at the same time. With seagate, they used to pride themselves in having 5 year warranties. And having recently RMA'd a 1TB drive from 2008, I am glad for that.

Most HDD's die within 3-5 years. So a 1 year warranty is useless except for straight off the truck failures. Arguably, this is more sensible for the company, however it sucks ass for consumers who are used to having a standard 5 year warranty, an artifact of the storage wars of the mid aughts.

So I am not surprised, but not many people are talking about this, which is surprising. Glad to see a slashdot article about it!

Re:Also warranties suck now (4, Informative)

gman003 (1693318) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934629)

There's more difference than just the warranty between the Green and Black.

WD has three "labels" for consumer drives: Green, Blue, and Black. Green drives are 5400RPM "power-efficient" drives, and new capacities generally show up here first as it's easier to increase density at low speeds. Blue and Black drives are both 7200RPM*, but Black usually has larger cache and is marketed at "enthusiasts", while Blue is aimed at "mainstream".

So I guess they also consider a lengthier warranty to be an "enthusiast", not "mainstream", feature.

* I think on their mobile side it's different, with notebook Blue drives still being 5400RPM, but I don't recall for sure and don't feel like checking.

Re:Also warranties suck now (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934821)

Meh. For individual HDs extended warranties are rarely worth it. Your drive dies, you have to figure out who to contact for an RMA. Then you have to ship it and wait and get a refurb. While potentially compromising data is out of your hands. For $80 or so....

At my little hospital we just make magnets out of the dead drives. It's just not worth the hassle. YMMV of course, but for small numbers it just doesn't add up.

Re:Also warranties suck now (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934851)

Remember, that in the EU, you have TWO YEARS of warranty, NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY!

And yes, companies deliberately and illegally lie about the duration of their warranty.

Don't listen to them. In the EU, you have at least 2 years, no matter what. End of story.

Re:Also warranties suck now (2)

Maltheus (248271) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934871)

Most HDD's die within 3-5 years.

Hmmm. I've had many hard drives and plenty that arrive dead or fail within the first three months, but I'm not sure that I've ever had one that failed, after it's proven itself for more than a year. I've gotten to the point where I won't even use a drive, unless it's proved itself (as a backup HDD) for at least a year.

Re:Also warranties suck now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934875)

Most HDD's die within 3-5 years. So a 1 year warranty is useless except for straight off the truck failures.

A consumer grade warranty isn't meant to provide you with a warranty that gives every customer a new drive. It is only meant to provide protection against the screw ups, say the first 1% of errors.

You really have your expectations way off.

Duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934409)

Prices were raised, people bought hard drives at the higher prices because they need them, the factories and such are back in full production and prices could go down but if people are already paying more than they used to why would they drop them?

"Well we had to raise prices cause of the crisis but now we can afford to lower the prices...oh wait millions depend on us and are already paying our higher than previous costs. Fuck em, were in business to make money"

Only a retard making money would opt to make less money.

I call BS (1)

popeye44 (929152) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934621)

Because if I can buy a 2tb external hard drive for 79.00 why the fuck does it cost me 79.00 for a 1tb internal?

It doesn't it's artificially inflated. So I end up with external enclosures along with my drive purchase.

Bastards.

Re:I call BS (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#41935003)

Almost all externals are 5400, and with low caches. I wouldn't be surprised if drives that fail one of the more stringent tests are allocated to external use. After all, or externals you are buying space, not performance.

a dying technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41935107)

Most consumers don't need TBs of space in their lappy. I think you'll see that in 2 years it's hard to buy a laptop with a spinning platter drive. Let the prices of spinning platters go up as volume and demand decline, I'll just move more of my machines to SSD.

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