Another one bites the dust. Western Digital's acquisition of Hitachi's disk business and means some things that consumers will like and some things consumers won't. In the big picture it is a continuation of the slowdown in core IT technologies.
Besides making WD the world's largest disk drive firm, the acquisition eliminates a perennial weak sister in the disk drive business. Hitachi has struggled since they acquired IBM's disk business to make it profitable.
Hitachi recently succeeded in that goal, but the $4.3 billion price just covers the cost of the IBM acquisition and the losses they've taken since then. Hitachi came out whole, barely.
The Storage Bits take After more than 50 tumultuous years of wild innovation that saw hundreds of disk drive companies come and go the industry is moving into end-stage maturity. Once down to three or four vendors and no new markets - other than archive-quality disks - it comes down to wringing out modest improvements from stepwise enhancements day after day, year after year.
Inevitably, the slowdown in capacity improvements and price declines will shift the opportunities for technological innovation from drives to how we architect the systems that use the drives.
New filesystems, lower cost interconnects and novel nonvolatile memory techniques will all enable improved ways of utilizing venerable disk drive technologies. But like the slowdown in CPU improvement, the slowdown in drive technology will have a long-term and profound impact on how we manage and use massive data.
Comments welcome, of course. I like WD's approach to business. All in all, the good outweighs the bad for the industry and consumers.