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HDD Price Update: How the Thai Floods Have Affected Prices, 3 Months Later 220

Posted by Soulskill
from the leveling-off dept.
New submitter jjslash writes "The hard disk drive supply chain was hit hard late last year when a series of floods struck Thailand. The Asian country accounts for about a quarter of the world's hard drive production, but thousands of factories had to close shop for weeks as facilities were under water, in what is considered the world's fourth costliest natural disaster according to World Bank estimates. That's on top of the human cost of over 800 lives. TechSpot has monitored a number of mobile and desktop HDDs to get a better overview of how the situation has developed in the last three months."
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HDD Price Update: How the Thai Floods Have Affected Prices, 3 Months Later

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  • Why the "but"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @03:23AM (#38964131)

    the Asian country accounts for about a quarter of the world's hard drive production, but thousands of factories had to close shop for weeks as facilities

    "and" would be better as "but" implies that there's some sort of twist.

  • by SeaFox (739806) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @03:23AM (#38964133)

    NewEgg is actually having sales on something besides "recertfied" drives.

    • Quick summary (Score:5, Informative)

      by UPi (137083) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @03:58AM (#38964287) Homepage

      Prices are still high, but not as much as they were at the peak last November. Instead of 80-190% above the pre-flood prices, they are now 60-90% up.

      This probably should've been part of the article summary.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by lightknight (213164)

        Still far too high to upgrade; I can wait out the year with the storage space I currently have.

        I am not going to pay ~$175 for 'Intellipower' / 5900 RPM 2 TB drives, when I have a few 7200 RPM 1.5 TB drives already installed (which I picked up for ~$120 / drive at the time). Perhaps when I see some 7200 RPM 3 TB drives for a nicer price, I might be moved to upgrade. However, as it stands, I've already figured that this year will not have the price offering I want...so, I'll wait until next year when 7200 RP

        • Re:Quick summary (Score:4, Insightful)

          by dkf (304284) <donal.k.fellows@manchester.ac.uk> on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @08:52AM (#38965401) Homepage

          Plus, the Seagate CEO's offhanded remarks about having the customers up against a wall (reading between the lines, of course)...are rather vexing.

          It's kind of tough for you. It takes a long time to build a hard drive factory (you're talking about a cycle of about a decade). It will take a long time for prices to drop back, and you're probably looking at a new level for exponential decay of price per gigabyte to decay from. But the worst part is that you have to realize that there's no reason there won't be another such catastrophe. OK, the details might be different (earthquake, volcano, war, etc.) but the effect on prices of some critical component could be just the same anyway. Any time there's a concentration of high-tech factories anywhere in the world, there's an increase in risk.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I am not going to pay ~$175 for 'Intellipower' / 5900 RPM 2 TB drives, when I have a few 7200 RPM 1.5 TB drives already installed (which I picked up for ~$120 / drive at the time).

          Amen. I also seriously dislike how certain producers no longer tell you the rotational speed. As this directly affects access time, it's an important number. For certain uses (MOST uses, actually), being able to stream huge files twice as fast as your old drive is not going to outweigh a much higher access time.

          WDC was my choice, but after they dropped the rpm and started with meaningless marketing words, I won't I buy them. Whatever marketing boss came up with this has cost the company very real sales.

    • by Antidamage (1506489) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @06:28AM (#38964847) Homepage

      It's about buying smart. Instead of buying recertified drives, go for drives that really like the water like Barracudas and Caviar.

  • Fear economics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jhoegl (638955) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @03:24AM (#38964139)
    That is what we are dealing with. From HDs to gas prices.
    • Re:Fear economics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by boombaard (1001577) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @08:44AM (#38965361) Journal
      I'm sorry, but this is imply bullshit. What we are dealing with is not "fear economics", but with the consequences of overemphasizing efficiency over resilience and/or robustness. And at the root of that is that that is what economic "thinking" teaches economic actors to do.
      • Meant to type: "I'm sorry, but this is simplistic nonsense (that gets you +4/5 insightful...). What we are dealing with is not "fear economics", but "bad economics". That is, what we are dealing with are the consequences of the fact that all the players are overemphasizing efficiency at the cost of resilience and/or robustness. And the reason they do that is because that is what economic "thinking" teaches everyone to do."
        • by cornjones (33009)

          it isn't 'bad' economics unless we lost more during the rebuild time than we saved by not having overbuilt...

      • by dkf (304284)

        I'm sorry, but this is imply bullshit. What we are dealing with is not "fear economics", but with the consequences of overemphasizing efficiency over resilience and/or robustness. And at the root of that is that that is what economic "thinking" teaches economic actors to do.

        Economics will merrily quantify the level of risk associated with a decision (possibly wrongly; this is an area of current research as it is becoming clear that the simple models previously used were thoroughly bogus) but it won't tell you what the decision should actually be. Nor will professional management practice. Alas, lots of people think that they do and that they have to optimize the system (or their part of it) under the assumption that everything is working perfectly. This is stupid, but all too

  • ...large capacity drives are still at the same price as new ones the same size were in May last year... I'm not even going to look at prices for new drives at the moment.

    • Pricewatch? The damage didn't seem too bad.

      • OK, I was brave... my regular supplier has Barracuda 7200.12 SATA II 1TB in for £95 delivered. Not bad, considering what's happened and the fact that the last external drive I bought was £60 (2TB), middle of last year.

        • I bought three 2TB drives about a week before the flood. They cost £49.15 + VAT. The same model today, from the same supplier, costs £81.20 + VAT. About a month after the flood, it cost about £130, so the prices are slowly returning to their pre-flood levels...
  • Fuck the 800 lives (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Osgeld (1900440)

    I want to know how much its going to cost me to stash another TB worth of shit music, porn, and absolute garbage movies and tv shows god damnit!

  • About sales going down, while prices are going up. In hundreds of $

    Those pesky customers, always making problems in free market. Market would do infinitely better without them.

  • Just wait.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by RobinEggs (1453925) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @03:49AM (#38964249)
    I see folks are expecting prices to get better, but just watch...

    The initial price shock from speculation, panic-buying and hoarding may be coming down somewhat, but as the article alludes towards the end, the real impact might last throughout this year. There haven't been actual shortages on that many products so far, and when real shortages show up prices could stay high or go higher even with people cutting down as much as they can on drive purchases. (I know several popular and/or performance drives have sold out at PC makers, especially on their build-your-own websites, but most products never ran completely dry.)

    Not to mention that while vendors have a lot of tactics for dealing with shortages, from back-stock to supply contract clauses entitling them to extra shipments of already manufactured inventory during crises, none of those tricks can't make new hard drives appear out of nowhere. The wiggle room such tactics enable will be drying up about now. Eventually even commodity drives could feel the squeeze as supplies on more and more drives threaten to run out entirely, despite the high prices. Because there's a lot of pent-up demand and it sounds like many of those plants still aren't nearing full capacity again.
    • by wisty (1335733)

      Well, look at the lead time on a hard drive factory. You can probably get one up and running in what, a year?

      Hard drives are still cheap, in historical terms, and HDD is the limiting factor for many systems - nobody runs out of CPU, only servers and power users (programmers, video editors, numerical scientists) run out of RAM, and Intel graphics are now sufficient for some tasks (gasp).

      People held off because they were higher than usual, but now that the price is going down (not up) demand will pick up agai

      • Re:Just wait.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by lightknight (213164) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @05:18AM (#38964585) Homepage

        Lies. We can never have enough CPUs, as long as you are speaking about cores or sockets on a motherboard. We could have CPUs with 10,000 cores on them, taking 512-bit words, and it still wouldn't be enough.

        And Intel graphics are never sufficient. I have yet to encounter anyone who has gone 6 months with an actual machine with an integrated Intel graphics chip-set, and not have them hunger for something better.
        It's the same old sad story every time ->
        "I just like to browse the internet and do email, I don't need anything fancy."
        "Yes, you do."
        "Well, the model I was looking at is $200 cheaper than the one you recommended."
        "That's because I'm speccing in your need for decent video performance 3 months from now, when you discover gaming / Photoshop / Aero Glass / CAD / whatever."
        "You know what? I'm going to get the cheaper one. I don't need the video performance."

        3 months later:
        "Dude, I was trying to play WoW on my computer, and it's really slow!"
        "Do go on."
        "Yeah man, they pushed out a new patch, and even with the details turned all the way down, the machine lags."
        "Really. I wouldn't have imagined that."
        "So, can you help me purchase a good video card?"
        *facepalms*

        Or alternatively:
        "Yeah, I saw my friend with a Mac, and it does everything really well. I think I'll buy one, because, you know, everything just works."
        "Only one of your applications actually runs on that operating system."
        "Yeah, I think I'll manage. I want to get away from this Microsoft stuff."

        3 days later:
        "Could you install Office on my Mac for me?"
        "No."
        "Come on. Here's my discs and..."
        "These discs are for a Windows computer."
        "But the guy at the Apple store told me the Mac could run Windows..."
        "Yes, if you use Boot Camp, and obtain a licensed copy of Windows, sure. Same as any other computer."
        "So, I can't run Office on my Mac?"
        "No, no. You can, you just need to shell out some more money for the Mac version. Good luck with that."
        "Well, can you still install it for me? After I get the discs?"
        "No. I do not do Macs. I do not own one, I do not want one, and I do not want to learn about Apple's products." - a slight lie, as the first machine I dicked around with was an Apple. Still, it is a loophole that allows the Windows / Linux techs to feign lack of knowledge, and allows us to (thank God) finally emerge from tech support hell for these kinds of people. Let the geniuses at the Apple store deal with them for a while, as we have for the past two decades...as we all know what it inevitably devolves into...midnight phone calls, requests to drive to far away places (using your own gas and time), and a fair amount of disrespect. I just need to put my fingers in my ears, and hum, for several more years, while they tell me that because their MacBook is having trouble renewing its DHCP address when it resumes from hibernation mode, it must be a problem with my network.

        But back on topic. We can never have enough CPUs, never enough cores on those CPUs, never enough CPU sockets (even on consumer grade stuff), never enough RAM (I just want a motherboard with 16 RAM slots per CPU), and yes, we can never have enough hard disk space. Or x16 slots...if I can't fit a dozen two-slot video cards into a single motherboard, we haven't gone far enough. Or enough cache. And no, I don't care that cache performance theoretically deteriorates as the size increases. It's up there with being too healthy, or being too wealthy, or too alive, or too free.

        • by wisty (1335733)

          1) If you pay any reasonable price, more CPU and memory is generally wasted. My Macbook Air rarely fells slow, and it's running a crappy C2D. Any modern system (i5 and up) will be fine.

          2) I think you are underestimating the current Intel GPUs. I'd still advise a basic dedicated GPU if you play any games at all, but Intel is finally making GPUs which are not complete crap. Intel on new chips is now comparable to low-end outdated dedicated GPUs.

          The first generation Intel GPU was the GMA 900, in 2004, on P4 ch

        • Re:Just wait.... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @07:08AM (#38965003)

          ...as we all know what it inevitably devolves into...midnight phone calls, requests to drive to far away places (using your own gas and time), and a fair amount of disrespect.

          You know what makes this easy? Tell them fixing computers is a side job of yours and you don't do it for free for anyone. They can pay your hourly rate (at a "discount") or barter something with you in exchange for your time. Otherwise, they can go elsewhere. After all, you wouldn't ask a plumber friend to fix your toilet for free, would you? (And if you did, you're an asshole in my book.)

          • by gmack (197796)

            Exactly, time is worth something. My policy is that for most people I fix computers for a living that means I want something in return even if it's just dinner. As a side note: my best barter ever was a guy who really messed up his computer several times and his wife was a professional massage therapist.

            • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Did you get a happy ending?

            • by Ihmhi (1206036)

              Exactly, time is worth something. My policy is that for most people I fix computers for a living that means I want something in return even if it's just dinner.

              If you're knowledgeable about computers to the degree that everyone asks you to fix their problems, then I suggest everyone in this position "fix computers as a side business". There are many advantages.

              1) The free ride for friends and family is immediately over. (Might not be able to get out of the family obligation, but you can certainly get out of the friends one.)

              2) They'll decide that if they're going to pay, they'll pay Best Buy or similar to handle it instead. After spending about 4-10x as much money

        • midnight phone calls, requests to drive to far away places (using your own gas and time), and a fair amount of disrespect

          It seems that you are a good person, trying to help others. Unfortunately, it seems to be a very bad side in the nature of some people that this doesn't get you any respect, quite the opposite. Try this: Next time you meet one of these people, and people discuss what to do, you suggest going to some nice restaurant and you say loud enough that it can't be missed: "You pay". When they ask why, you say "well, I solved this problem for you for free, didn't I"?

          So what happens? They might never ask for your h

        • by Kjella (173770)

          It's up there with being too healthy, or being too wealthy, or too alive, or too free.

          More like there's far more water in the tap or far more electricity in the wires than I'm going to use. Going from 4 to 16 MB and 4 to 16 GB is the same mathematically, but the former was a huge upgrade and the latter a luxury. Before, how many applications/windows/tabs I'd have open was limited by the computer, too many and it'd slow down. Today it's practically only limited by how many I think is manageable to work with, today I could within "prosumer" prices get 8x8GB on a LGA2011 board and it's not that

          • Unless you're talking about a laptop, upgrading to a discrete GPU after three months isn't much of a WTF

            A lot of people are talking about a laptop, even if you don't plan to take it on the road. You might just want one computer that can be more easily carted back and forth between the desk and the entertainment center (to use for big-screen gaming or as an HTPC for free Hulu), or a computer with a built-in UPS.

        • by sootman (158191)

          You realize that only the first half of your post was about CPUs, right?

          Also, for future reference, a much shorter answer to "Well, can you still install it for me? After I get the discs?" is "It's easy: put the disc in the machine and then follow the instructions that automatically appear."

        • by grumbel (592662)

          We can never have enough CPUs, never enough cores on those CPUs, never enough CPU sockets (even on consumer grade stuff), never enough RAM (I just want a motherboard with 16 RAM slots per CPU), and yes, we can never have enough hard disk space.

          You only need so much hardware power as the task at hand requires. The last decades have seen constant growth as the tasks we do with computers expanded. Early computers where mostly text and even rather slow computers can handle that, but then came graphics and thus higher requirements for GPU/CPU, then came 3D graphics and then video and there was a constant demand for new hardware. Instead of storing the work of a day on a floppy, we went to storing the work of a month on a HDD, now we are at a point whe

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        I'd agree with you on everything but the Intel graphics part. Sure they are okay if you are only doing spreadsheets and the like but it don't take too many flash videos in websites to drag those suckers down, all except the top o' the line chips of course. and I don't know what GPU they are putting in those Atom netbooks but frankly they should be ashamed, even the newest one i recently tried and it royally sucked for anything other than webvideo. Compare this to the C60 I found a customer for $300 over the

  • Digital Cameras? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @03:51AM (#38964259)

    The Thai floods also disrupted the supply chain for digital cameras. It would be interesting to know how things are doing on that front.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CadentOrange (2429626)
      There is a graph on this page http://camerapricebuster.co.uk/prod1632.html [camerapricebuster.co.uk] which is for the Nikon D7000 which is manufactured in Thailand. It looks like the price jumped rather significantly.
      • by Skater (41976)

        We were looking at the D7000 last October, originally planning to buy one in early January. We went into the camera store, and they told us they were out of stock due to the flooding (but, a few weeks after Christmas, they filed bankruptcy, so I suspect there was more to the story than flooding). Fearing there would be a shortage and we wouldn't be able to get one when we were planning, we went online and bought the camera immediately.

        Looks like it's a good thing we bought when we did. Of course that pro

  • spot market effect (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @04:04AM (#38964311)

    I think lots of people don't understand what happened with Newegg and other retailers. As someone explained it to me, a drive maker like WD has two kinds of customers:

    1) big systems integrators like Lenovo, Dell, HP, etc., who order 100K drives at a time or more
    2) Smaller customers (e.g. resellers) like Newegg, who order maybe 1k drives at a time. If someone wants just 5 drives they have to buy from a distributor or retailer like Newegg.

    The very big customers will order their 100k drives at some preagreed price, delivered over (say) a 3-6 month interval per their production schedules. WD also plans its own production around such large orders. If they get (say) 1 million drives worth of such orders for 1Q2012, they'll (normally) set up their production to make (say) 1.3 million drives, deliver 1 million of them per the pre-agreed contracts, and put 0.3 million on the shelf for to fulfill "spot market" orders from places like Newegg. Depending on market conditions and what the competition is doing, the spot price will fluctuate above or sometimes below what the big OEM's pay.

    When the Thai floods hit, production was cut from (say) 1.3 million to 0.9 million. There was no way to fulfill the agreed contracts, understandable due to the disaster, but they had to make the best effort they could, which meant hand ALL their drives over to OEM's while the likes of Newegg got nothing. So the prices of integrated systems actually didn't jump that much, but spot prices skyrocketed.

    Now that we're a few months into the drama, the OEM's are in a new ordering cycle, they get to pay higher prices too, but WD gets to again allocate some drives to spot inventory. So we'll be seeing higher prices from Dell over the coming months, but some relief on the Newegg side (though the prices will still be higher than before, until around 3Q or 4Q from what I keep hearing).

  • by jampola (1994582) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @04:50AM (#38964487)
    I live in Thailand and ever since the floods, it has been used as an excuse to keep prices up. Examples of this would be beer, eggs, maama (think instant noodles) and also Hard Drives!

    If you've ever lived here, you know people try to outsmart everyone and an example of this would be claiming shortages of hard drives is keep prices high even known their supply chain in Ayuthaya (where most of this shit comes from) has been bone dry and their factories operating at capacity for at least 6 - 8 weeks.

    Mind you, when I go to my IT Square near where I live, only a few days ago Hard Drive prices are relatively back to normal, yet overseas, are still super expensive compared to normal. Also Nikon cameras and glass are normal prices here (most DX DSLR's and glass are made in Ayuthaya) and again OS it's still more expensive than normal.
    • I am sorry that you live in Thailand, as obviously you shouldn't be here.

      If you think that factories can now "get away" with higher prices because they have the excuse of the flood then you don't understand in the slightest how pricing works. If they could "get away" with higher prices they would have already done so. There's no need to have an excuse. It's not some honor code that keeps prices down. Producers everywhere charge the amount that maximizes profit. The only thing that keeps prices down is the

  • by citizenr (871508) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:23AM (#38965583) Homepage

    Seagate had almost record profits this Quarter. WD did VERY good despite the flood.
    Looks like the only one hurt was consumers, Corporations made out like bandits.

  • by Mojo66 (1131579) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @11:01AM (#38966721)

    We know that Apple is able to make some special deals with their suppliers due to them paying in advance or something like that, what I'd like to know: is anything known if (I suspect no, cause Mac prices seem stable) and if not, why they aren't affected by this?

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