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Data Storage Businesses The Almighty Buck

Seagate buys Maxtor for $1.9B 458

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the always-was-more-of-a-western-digital-man-myself dept.
groovy.ambuj writes "Reuters reports that Seagate Technology would buy rival computer disk-drive maker Maxtor Corp. for $1.9 billion. Seagate is already world's largest hard drive manufacturer and Maxtor is the third largest after Seagate and Western Digital."
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Seagate buys Maxtor for $1.9B

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  • Crap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toby The Economist (811138) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @09:37AM (#14308234)
    There aren't many big players in the hard disk market.

    I'm not that enthusisatic about loosing one of them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @09:42AM (#14308278)
    Anecdotal evidence won't get you far in the hard drive world. You haven't mentioned WD, whose Caviar line is in most of my machines. But I digress.

    A good measure of the hard drive reliability is the warranty that the manufacturer is attaching to it. While there _will_ be failures before the warrarnty expires, it gives an indication as to how much you can trust the drive.
  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @09:44AM (#14308284)
    I wouldn't expect any further consolidation in the hard drive business to result in more price competition. There are only a very small number of manufacturers as it is. I suspect that hard drive prices have more or less bottomed out now in the "bargain" segment of the industry and that with current limits on areal density of data on the platters that any differentiation in prices will be based on performance rather than capacity.

    One can only hope that someone comes up with some paradigm shift in storage (either in price or capacity) that puts real pressure on the hard disk manufacturers to innovate and remain competitive.
  • by stunt_penguin (906223) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @09:46AM (#14308301)
    Adobe & Macromedia
    Google & AOL (well 5% of)
    Seagate & Maxtor


    2005 has been a year of spending money for big players, it seems. Can anyone predict any more big moves before Dec. 1st?
  • by iamcf13 (736250) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @09:51AM (#14308345) Homepage Journal
    Now that Seagate 'owns' Maxtor, will they make Maxtor drives better or just kill the product line off and just use Maxtor's facilities to churn out Seagate HDs? I had two Maxtors HDs crap out on me years ago and I washed my hands of them due to that. If you must buy/use a Maxtor HD, use it as a giant 'scratch pad' and don't save anything permanent on it!

    As for Western Digital, other than their HDs running hot, I've had no data loss from them and would recommend them to anyone who can't get/afford Seagate.
  • by Yartrebo (690383) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @09:52AM (#14308353)
    Considering that the hard drive industry is already quite concentrated and that the largest company in the market is doing the buying, how can the justice department possibly approve this merger.

    Then again, they approved of other such travesties as Exxon + Mobil, Viacom + CBS, Disney + Capital Cities, News Corp + Direct TV, and countless other clearly anti-competitive mergers throughout the last decade or two.

    Allowing this merger will do nothing but slow down innovation and increase prices.

    Has the Sherman Anti-Trust Act been repealed, or am I missing something here?
  • Dude, get over it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @09:56AM (#14308391) Homepage
    All hard drives die. Do you think there's one magic brand that never breaks? They all do.

    There might be varying levels of quality among specific brands and models, but data loss is inevitable if your only line of defense is faith in your bullet proof manufacturer who has never failed on you before. Everyone has one, and every one's is different. Some people have an incredible string of luck with Seagate, others with WD, etc. They all die. If you don't have a robust backup plan that you test regularly, you're going to get fucked at some point. If you've worked with computers long enough, you learn this and understand it.

    I look at a hard drive like most people look at a roll of toilet paper. I use it, it serves its purpose, it gets discarded. The data on it, however, is nearly sacred, and I take every precaution I can afford to protect mine. If I lose data, then I feel like I lost a pet. But I don't have any special attachment to my hard drives whatsoever.

    Having faith in a hard drive vendor is like a quaint superstition from the time when people were so poor that they might only have a single hard drive containing all the data they've ever generated in their entire lifetime.
  • by necro81 (917438) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @09:57AM (#14308395) Journal
    Seagate may have a lot of reasons for wanting to absorb Maxtor. Certainly Seagate will ultimately profit from it, since Maxtor was a decently profitable company (recent slumps in its stockprice nothwithstanding). Eliminating a brand name it has to compete against in the increasingly difficult hard drive market is another.

    I actually think that one of the larger reasons has to do with intellectual property. After being around for a bunch of years, Maxtor has a store of worthwhile patents on hard drive technology that Seagate could have a good use for. Being a competitor, it might have been difficult (read: $$$) or impossible for Seagate to license a Maxtor technology with Maxtor as an independent entity. There is also the intellectual property stored up in Maxtors employees: good talent can be hard to find, and if Seagate is expanding and developing more new technologies, it may have been a lot easier to just buy Maxtor (and gain its employees) rather than try expand its workforce at the slow pace of engineering and management recruiting/hiring.
  • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot AT keirstead DOT org> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @10:02AM (#14308445) Homepage
    I have had an IBM "DeathStar" for the past 5 years (yes, it is a 75GXP, the bad ones). Never had a problem with it.

    On the other hand, I have had one of your beloved Maxtors totally crap out on me after only having it for 6 months?

    What does this mean? Nothing. Hard drives are no different from elevisions or laptops any other piece of complicated equipment when it comes to reliability - on large scale average all the big brands have simmilar failure rates plus or minus a percentage point.

    If you are worried about your data theres just a few you can do.

    1. BACKUP OFTEN
    2. Spend the extra $$$ on a server-class SCSI drive. If reliability is your aim it is well worth it. Regardless of the brand a server-class SCSI drive is much more reliable cause they are designed with heavy abuse in mind. The downside is they are noisy.
    3. BACKUP OFTEN
    4. Use a redundant RAID configuration
    5. BACKUP OFTEN

    That's about it - loyalty to a given brand will get you nowhere, in the end they are all the same - for the most part good, but a bad batch once in a while.

    Personally, I just buy the cheapest drives I can find and run them in my RAID array. If one fails, no big deal. And it saves a ton of cash.

  • Nice logic... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot AT keirstead DOT org> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @10:06AM (#14308472) Homepage

    Now that Seagate 'owns' Maxtor, will they make Maxtor drives better or just kill the product line off and just use Maxtor's facilities to churn out Seagate HDs?

    And pray tell, why the hell do you think that a Seagate drive produced at the same facility with the same equipment would be different than a Maxtor drive? Loyal to the sticker perhaps?

    I bet you're one of those people who have a "Piss on Ford" bumper sticker too eh?

  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @10:08AM (#14308484) Homepage Journal
    I don't see any anti-trust here -- corporations are finding their bottom lines chopped up by excess banking and taxing regulations, excess overhead caused by mandated insurance regulations and excess pension costs caused by excess investment regulations. The more we regulate, the more we see the number of companies in a given market trend towards 1.

    Don't neglect the realities of being a corporation in a world that tries to overcontrol many companies in order to subsidize the few. Hard drive companies have one of the biggest problems in balancing cost versus quality.

    We've lost MANY hard drive companies over the years. So what? Hard drives are CHEAPER than ever, and we will likely see hard drives get even cheaper than that as companies combine and become more efficient.

    If only 2 companies remain and they start to gouge consumers, give it about 2 weeks before investors who see an opportunity come in and bring competition back to prior levels. I don't believe that monopolies are more than temporary unless they are given the power of monopoly through government licensing and regulations.
  • by raddan (519638) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @10:13AM (#14308525)
    And Seagate has a 5-year warranty on its Barracuda drives. Samsung has 3 year warranties on some of its drives as well. As far as I am aware, most other manufacturers have 1 year warranties. I think this speaks volumes about these drives, particularly WD drives, every one of which I've ever owned has failed before the warranty was up.

    At work, we only buy Seagate SCSI and ATA drives. We've returned RAID arrays to Dell because they failed to provide us with the proper drives (they just love to slip WDs in there). This is another bit of anecdotal evidence, but I've never seen a Seagate fail here. The few that have failed have been some Fujitsus and the few WDs that come in laptops. We're talking around 300 machines here.

    I don't have much experience with Maxtors except the one in my firewall that is still going strong after 7 years.

  • by LurkerXXX (667952) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @10:13AM (#14308526)
    Mod parent up. It sounds like the grandparent is basing his judgement off of a handfull of hard drives he has personally owned. Statistics off of such a low sample number are very bad. Talk to someone who works at a large corp in is charge of hundreds or thousands of drives. I think you will quickly revise your attitude towards Seagate. There is a reson they have a 5 year warrenty and Maxtor only has a 1 year.
  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @10:14AM (#14308534) Homepage Journal
    Combines don't always combine to become more powerful, in fact companies usually combine to save their asses.

    This merger isn't about making more profits -- it is about cutting the bleeding that has occured now that hard drive space is a commodity. How many hard drive companies did we have 10 years ago versus today? Do you recall all the companies that are gone now?

    How can you look at the prices of hard drives versus the number of companies and see a problem? You're pushing me to think you want regulations added to prevent these merges, but I'm happily buying 300GB hard drives for under $100 and I'm very happy.
  • Re:Woah there! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vertinox (846076) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @10:50AM (#14308827)
    If I lose data, then I feel like I lost a pet.

    Woah there! Maybe you are taking this data thing too seriously.

    Come to think of it... I used to be just like you. I always had redudant copies of hard drives, then copies of those, and then I went all the way and got a RAID controller and started out with Raid 5 but I figured that wasn't good enough to I mirrored that...

    After about 10 years of doing this (since 1995... I still got backups of my old IBM PS1 on my current computer) I realized:

    "What the fuck do I need all this data for?"

    I've got shit I don't even remember. Hard drives just laying in my closet full to the brim of stuff I don't even know what is on. CDRs and CDRs of shit I backed up but yet I don't know what good it will do me because everything I now use is stuff I downloaded or bought in the last 6 months.

    Maybe I'm too ADD, but I just can't keep up with crap that I did even a year ago that is worth keeping.

    My suggestion to break this cycle. Pull out a random hard drive from a closet (or computer) that you can't remember what you put on it and format it and install something like Ubuntu or whatever OS you want to play around with.

    It feels painful at first as you watch the progress of the install go by when you know you could be loosing valuable data, but you know what... If you can't remember what you put on their it probaly wasn't worth keeping.

    Yes, data hording is an addiction and I had the same problem too so I understand how hard it can be to try to keep bit of data I have came across in my life time. I still need to ebay all these seagate drives...
  • by hexix (9514) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @10:56AM (#14308879) Homepage
    The more we regulate, the more we see the number of companies in a given market trend towards 1.
    ...
    I don't believe that monopolies are more than temporary unless they are given the power of monopoly through government licensing and regulations.

    Huh? Isn't the reason we have these regulations because we've learned from history that the exact opposite of what you're saying is true? Did the government somehow kill competition for standard oil to give them a monopoly? Seriously, I'm asking. Perhaps you know something I don't.

    It seems the cool new thing is to blame a company's woes on health care costs, and government regulation. The people who do this tend to ignore that there are a crap-load of companies doing fine with the same costs. Simply because they make products people want to buy. Then there are other companies making crap products who want to blame their dying company on the government. GM -- I'm looking at you.

  • Re:Woah there! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by killmenow (184444) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @11:19AM (#14309082)
    I know where you're coming from. I still have QIC-40 tape backups from one of my oldest PCs. Hell, I still have floppies *and cassettes* saved from my first Atari 1200. Here's my problem now:

    The floppies and cassettes are so old as to have lost much of the data on them. (I confess I haven't stored them properly; but, even had I done so, there is still a good chance of data loss.) And the QIC tapes I have no device capable of reading now. I am quite certain there's some old letters, poems, songs, and other miscellaneous writings on those tapes written with a word processor that's no longer available. So, even if I had a device capable of reading the tapes and restoring the data, I still would need to find a way to get the data out of that old proprietary format and into a format I can use now.

    You are correct about the painful part, too. I started throwing old crap away when I had an epiphany similar to yours. Even knowing I'm throwing away things I haven't touched in 20 years and if I did restore it and convert it to a usable format, I still probably would be either: (a) unimpressed; (b) underwhelmed; and/or, (c) embarrassed by it. It's still difficult letting go of it.
  • by egarland (120202) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @11:26AM (#14309147)
    A warranty is a good measure of how reliable a manufacturer EXPECTS a drive to be, not how reliable it actually is. The deathstars, for example, were much more failure prone than IBM expected. There is no way to know about issues like that from warranty information. MTBF numbers usually given out are the same thing, not based in actual data but based on engineering estimates.

    To know how reliable a drive is, you have to know actual failure rates. Only the manufacturer is typically in a position to accurately measure those and they pretty much never give it out without an NDA or court order. We on the outside are left manually piecing together the data using methods like The storage review drive reliablity survey:

    http://www.storagereview.com/map/lm.cgi/survey_log in [storagereview.com]

    which attempts to gather accurate statistics from large samplings from users. This seems like a lot of work but hopefully it will pry the window open and convince manufacturers that it won't be the end of the world if people know how reliable their drives actually are.
  • by Artemis3 (85734) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @12:39PM (#14309816)
    I worked in a it shop, and i never knew of a single kalok surviving even days after the warranty expired. Kalok was the pcchips of its day, the worst thing you could get.

    From those days, i still have a 100% working (zero bad sectors) 3 1/2" IDE (ata) 80mb Seagate (ST3096A). Its last days were spent on a 24hrs dial up BBS i turned off around 97. The drive still works fine. I also used to have a 5 1/4" MFM 40mb Seagate drive (ST251N?) which was used in the same machine; before it, the machine had a 5 1/4" RLL 30mb Seagate ST238R which i used to have on an XT back in the day.

    Of the home/desktop drives, Quantum used to be reliable as well, with Western Digital and Maxtor being ok, but about nothing else. Turned out Maxtor got Quantum, and now Seagate got Maxtor; so all that is left is Seagate, Western Digital and the bunch of "newcomers".

    I do seem to recall a couple of slave/master issues, but not many. "Cable Select" mode would likely fail with different brands, but the regular master/alave configuration usually worked; maybe one specific drive had to always be the master, but that was about it. Upgrade paths usually involved replacing the drive for a bigger one anyways.
  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bill_kress (99356) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:34PM (#14310814)
    What is the advantage, to the general population, to allow stuff like this to happen? What was Segate missing in their product line that they absolutely had to have Maxtor to fill?

    It's simply destroying a competitor to allow them to monopolize more of the market.

    All this crap happened in the 20's. The US became extremely pro-business and anti-regulation, from the supreme court and president down.

    This caused the depression. The depression removed the focus on the rich and corporate entities and returned much of the money they looted from the middle and lower classes, we had quite a few prosperous, happy decades.

    Now we get to relearn our lesson I guess. Ready for the next depression? Probably only a decade or so out now?

    Remember, we don't charter corporations so the shareholders can become rich and powerfully, that is a side-effect; we allow it because it's supposed to help everyone. When it stops helping the general economy and starts simply being self-serving, we need to re-evaluate the system and tweak it a little.
  • by Velox_SwiftFox (57902) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:36PM (#14310830)
    Things change. Starting with Seagate drives in IBM PC-ATs that occasionally had to be whacked with something to start them turning; finding Quantum Bigfoot drives were crap after good experiences with their Fireball line; bad experiences with Maxtors up until they came out with the "Diamondmax" line (a long time ago); a period of time when Western Digital drives on the order of 1GB were universally reviled for their dying; good experiences with IBM - but only until the later Deskstars. Recently in servers, our Maxtor drives have, yes, started dying young in excessive numbers, but not young enough to be detected by burn-in. Damnit, we use Raid-10, I shouldn't have to rush out and replace the drive that afternoon because the increased load on the other disk in the failed mirror might kill it too.

    Which it seems to come down to - so far the best guide has been the reviews' disk temperature benchmarks. After all is said and done, the cooler ones seem to last *much* longer.

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