Although the severe flooding in Thailand last year is throwing the entire hard disk drive market and related industries for a loop in 2012, the fourth quarter sorted out in favor of Seagate.
See also: Hardware makers slog through hard disk drive shortages
Seagate led the global hard disk drive market during the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the latest numbers from IHS iSuppli, with 46.9 million HDD units worldwide.
Western Digital was a distant second place with 28.5 million shipments, with Toshiba, Hitachi and Samsung rounding out the top five respectively.
While it is a victory for Seagate, it's a minor one. Although Seagate did nab a considerably larger portion of the market share between the third and fourth quarters (increased from 29 to 38 percent), a previous report from IHS suggested that HDD shipments and revenues will not stabilize until at least Q3 2012.
Another study from data storage consulting firm Coughlin Associates posited that normal hard drive capital spending won't level out until at least 2014.
IHS storage systems analyst Fang Zhang argued in Wednesday's report that Seagate's Q4 success was really a stroke of luck.
Seagate owes its return to market leadership to a fortuitous accident in geography: Its HDD manufacturing plant in Thailand is located on high ground. As a result, the company was less impacted by the October floods—the most destructive in the last 50 years for the Southeast Asian country. On the other hand, Western Digital’s HDD manufacturing facilities were engulfed by rampaging storm waters, which effectively slashed its fourth-quarter output to half of the manufacturer’s preflood volume.
Although we'll know more about Seagate's actual situation after the March quarter, Seagate did post solid earnings for the second fiscal quarter when announced in January.