12 Jun Digital Media Superstar: Seagate?
It would have been easy to overlook last week’s flurry of announcements from hard disk drive stalwart Seagate. After all, this company has been making component hard drives for more than 20 years – and disk storage is, as everyone knows, a rather mundane commodity market where the greatest excitement comes from news that someone has packed another gigabyte of magnetic bits onto the head of a pin. So I won’t blame you if you didn’t pay much attention to – or even see – the announcement of 10 new disk-based products, including a 750GB hard disk for digital voice recorders (DVR) and an 8GB pocket drive.
If you missed this announcement, you also missed an interesting transformation at the leading provider of hard drive component devices. Over the past year, Seagate has made significant in-roads into the branded products business, fueled in part by its acquisition last year of Mirra (DEMOmobile 2003). Consumer digital media and electronic devices are driving both dollar and unit growth in the hard drive storage market, and it’s just not good enough for Seagate to have a big share of that market as an OEM supplier. The company wants to get its own brands into the market.
But with the exception of the Mirra Personal Server and the Pocket Drive, most hard disk storage is wrapped with a compelling media application or service. What’s an iPod, for example, without a big drive to store all that data? But few of the millions of iPod owners would think of their lovely MP3 player as a hard drive that happens to store and play back music. No, these devices are decidedly a music player that can hold a lot of songs. Little elves could be inside the iPod, for all they care.
So for Seagate to make it in the branded products consumer market, the company has to deliver services and applications wrapped around its hard drive storage. That spells big opportunity for digital media ventures looking for an avenue to market. It may not be enough, in time, to be a great photo sharing or video or music site. These companies may present more strongly as a vertically integrated device/service combination, and Seagate just may be a motivated partner.
I’ve run several scenarios by the leadership of Seagate’s branded products initiatives, and have been impressed by their open-mindedness and initiative to grow and capture this emerging market segment.
So although last week’s barrage of hard disk-based products may have missed your attention, I suspect that in due time, Seagate will turn a lot of heads with an innovative mix of digital media applications and services – all of which rely on reliable storage to make them tick.
When that day arrives, a lot of folks will be surprised and maybe even skeptical of this “new kid” in the digital media town. Funny, but Seagate will have been there all along.
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