Seagate ST-157A | IDE 44 MB hard disk drive

By looking at the consolidation diagram of hard drive makers from our previous article, you soon notice that a majority  of the former hard disk drive makers are now part of the Seagate Corporation.

Does this make Seagate the biggest kid on block? You bet! Seagate took the lead in the hard disk drive industry in 2011, with the release the world’s first 3TB hard drive, in the form of an external HDD, as part of their Seagate FreeAgent line of external HDDs.

Seagate Business Model

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Seagate Technology PLC was founded and incorporated in 1978 as Shugart Technology by Alan Shugart. They developed the first 5.25-inch hard disk drive in 1980, their famous ST-506. The company grew fast with this 5-megabyte drive, especially after the introduction of the IBM XT in 1983. During the late 80’s Seagate was looking for a new actuator design.

With the purchase of Control Data Corporation’s Imprimis division, makers of the Wren product line, Seagate finally had access to voice coil-based technology. Two years later, they introduced the 7200 RPM Barracuda line. This same line of drives remains part of their higher-end offerings to this day. In the late 90’s and first decade of the new millenium, while companies like PrairieTek or Integral Peripherals were shutting down their operations, Seagate was achieving greater success and according to Forbes magazine, ‘riding the world’s gadget boom’. As one of the best managed companies in the US, they saw their 1-inch drive become the archive of choice for cameras and MP3 players. At the same time they actively recruited experts, who had previously worked for the now defunct smaller players, to continue their work for this giant.

quantum bigfoot
Again, Seagate grew fast. In 2006 they purchased Maxtor and gained even more market share and technology. Maxtor itself had already bought out companies such as Quantum and MiniScribe. One decade prior to this acquisition, in 1994, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) had sold it’s hard disk drive business to Quantum.

In the far east, during the late 60’s Samsung entered the electronics industry. During the next three decades they grew steadily and from the 90’s had increasingly globalized their activities. Samsung Electronics, particularly mobile phones and semiconductors had by now become its most important source of income. Although their electronics division was the world’s largest information technology company, Samsung also left the hard disk drive industry.

In 2011 Samsung sold their hard disk drive business to Seagate. Seagate’s path to dominace shows no signs of slowing,  to date having shipped well over two billion HDDs.

Seagate Recovery Services

Seagate acquired Toronto company, Action Front Data Recovery in 2006, rebranding it, Seagate Recovery Services (SRS). Today, SRS is among the largest data recovery providers in the world. Recently, SRS offered a service contract to the  giant online retailer, Amazon for it’s laptop and desktop computers. Their offer was to do more than merely replace a defective hard drives. Seagate Technology LLC was willing to also recover the lost data upon it. The manufacturer obviously shares firmware database with the data recovery provider since they are the same company. This have never been the case before. Data recovery has always been about reverse engineering and the industry might get a big hit with this type of service offered by Seagate, the actual drive manufacturer. However we may see a way better outcome. Now following Seagate, My Data Recovery Lab and few others we should see more data recovery providers offering similar service plans. Long story short, the actual data recovery success rate is significantly higher if you had your device (mostly HDDs) firmware saved someplace else (Cloud) besides the bad drive and have it ready when needed. In Seagate’s case, they already have them all!

Anyway you look, Seagate’s business model still works.

In Consolidation Of Hard Disk Drive Makers (Part 3) we will be writing about the Western Digital Corporation.

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