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Data Storage Hardware

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

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.

  • 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.
  • Fuck the 800 lives (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @03:31AM (#38964169)

    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!

  • by dragisha ( 788 ) <dragisha@m 3 w . o rg> on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @03:44AM (#38964221)

    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.

  • by Sneeka2 ( 782894 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @04:17AM (#38964361)

    You'd get the same thing in "first world hellholes", only that the reason for production going down would be due to strikes and general laziness rather than natural catastrophes. Which, in addition, happen in first world countries as well occasionally.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @04:40AM (#38964443)

    Huh? The manufacturers aren't legally forbidden from selling you 3 drives if that's what they want to do. They just don't want to deal with running a retail operation. It's just like if you call a shoe manufacturer like Nike and say you want to buy a pair of running shoes. They will refer you to a shoe store, since they don't want to deal with smaller quantities.

    Also remember that the OEM contracts were significant in the above picture because they were agreed BEFORE the floods, and locked in pre-flood prices that stayed in force for months after the flood. So even if WD were willing to sell you 1-2 drives directly, you would have had to order before the flood to get the low price. After the flood, if they had inventory to sell you that hadn't already been committed to other customers, they would have charged market prices the same as Newegg did.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @05:07AM (#38964547)

    how is this for a reason:
      drive manufactures DO NOT WANT TO SELL TO YOU because your 2-5 hard drive order is insignificant for them
      they do want to sell to newegg and anybody else willing to purchase few thousands drives so you and few thousands more people could gather up and make one big order and split drives among yourself (it would actually end up more expensive that way than buying from neweg, but nobody is stopping you from doing that)

  • by Engeekneer ( 1564917 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @05:12AM (#38964563)

    I think that's needlessly critical. Of course there are great human disasters which don't fall under the umbrella of /. Just because this happened to be one which also has a major affect on the tech industry, doesn't mean the humane part of this is any less tragic. Still, people come to /. for tech news, and this is an interesting analysis on how the price of the drives have been affected, and that is what /. should report.

    Lumping everybody together as basement-dwelling cold-hearted bastards who only care about cheap hardware is just as narrow-minded as you claim people reporting/reading this are. In fact, from my experience it seems that people reading /. are often more aware of international social issues than average.

  • 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?"

    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?"
    "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.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @06:58AM (#38964967)

    Well if they only counted for 1/4th of the production and the price is marked up over 100% I think an investigation is in order because i smell price gouging.

    What you should investigate is this concept called price elasticity of demand: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price_elasticity_of_demand [wikipedia.org]
    http://www.khanacademy.org/video/price-elasticity-of-demand?topic=microeconomics [khanacademy.org]
    Once you've understood that, you also have to realize they still have to pay the wages of many staff, plus other overheads (interest on loans from banks) despite the X% drop in sales.

    Before this disaster hard drive manufacturers were NOT making a lot of money from each hard drive they sell - tell me in which other industry could you buy a device with high tech, high precision, high speed moving parts with rare earth metals, that can operate nonstop, spinning at 7200 rpm for a few years with zero maintenance- no lube changes, no adjustments, with a three year warranty, for USD60 or less?

    Now because of the shortage prices went up, there were fewer drives to go around, so to try to make as much money to pay for their costs (or not lose so much money) they charged higher. But charging higher means fewer customers will be willing to pay the higher prices. So the rest of the customers who REALLY NEED those drives and are the only ones willing to buy will have to pay even more. Or maybe decide they don't really need those drives that much. So the hard drive sellers and buyers will have to see who blinks first. If enough buyers blink and buy, then the price stays high.

    That's how it works, you'd do the same thing too if you wanted to stay in business.

    As for me, I'm playing my part by not buying yet... I might save up to buy an SSD instead ;).

  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @07:25AM (#38965057)

    No one is preventing you from buying direct, they just have minimum order quantities. Are you suggesting that it would be a good idea to make minimum order quantities illegal? If you legally required them to single hard drives in single units they would just set the price absurdly high anyway, and give big discounts in quantities over 1000. Would you then suggest that the government legislate sales prices to manufacturers? In an industry that is constantly innovating and lowering prices and generally works very well? Why?

  • Re:Why the "but"? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @07:57AM (#38965171) Homepage Journal

    Well if they only counted for 1/4th of the production and the price is marked up over 100% I think an investigation is in order because i smell price gouging.

    What I'm detecting from your direction whiffs more like complete economic ignorance.

  • 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.
  • 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:Why the "but"? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:01AM (#38965897)

    What you and your "Herp derp we took an economics class once so now we are Milton Friedman herp derp" are missing is that if there is no collusion all it would take is one saying "I'll undercut the others and corner the OEMs!" to make out like a fucking robber baron.

    That can only happen if any one of the manufacturers produced enough to supply all the OEM needs.

    And there's not a lot of evidence of that.

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