Hitachi Enters Cutthroat Consumer Storage Wars

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-07-13 Print this article Print

The launch of three new storage machines marks the first products resulting from the company's acquisition of Fabrik in February 2009. The Japanese company now jumps directly into pricing wars in a cutthroat market that already includes Iomega, Seagate, Toshiba, Synology and Cisco Systems.

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, known in the past only for its enterprise storage products, on July 13 launched three consumer products that put the company directly into a growing market that already includes Iomega, Seagate, Toshiba, Synology and Cisco Systems.

The launch marks the first products resulting from the company's acquisition of Fabrik in February 2009. The transaction was closed several weeks ago.

Fabrik, founded in 2005 and based in San Mateo, Calif., makes both primary and offsite-based backup storage and markets the G-Technology and SimpleTech brands. It operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi.

Hitachi Fabrik produces SimpleTech's PC-based external storage and backup packages in addition to G-Technology products, which are external storage systems for the Macintosh, content creation and professional A/V markets.

The new Hitachi-branded products introduced July 13 include the SimpleTough portable USB drive, which Hitachi claims is the industry's only water/shock-resistant external hard drive from a global hard drive manufacturer.

The ruggedized SimpleTough portable drive is USB-powered and is available in capacities ranging from 250GB ($99.99) to 320GB ($119.99) to 500GB ($149.99).

Hitachi also unveiled the SimpleDrive Miniportable USB drive and the SimpleNet network storage adapter for sharing existing USB drive content over a home or office network.

The SimpleDrive Miniportables are available in capacities ranging from 250GB ($89.99) to 320GB ($109.99) to 500GB ($139.99).

Hitachi's new SimpleNet is a small network adapter that enables users to access two USB hard drives over a home or small-business network. It operates by simply plugging a USB hard drive into it and then plugging SimpleNet itself into an Ethernet network.

The USB drive then appears as a drive on the network. SimpleNet is available for Macintosh, PC and Linux users for $79.

Pricing Continues to Plummet

Pricing for consumer and small-business desktop storage devices has plummeted in the last 12 to 18 months.

Seagate Technology, for example, is heading in a new direction with its new Barracuda LP series, which uses 50 percent less power from the wall. The drives are available in 1TB, 1.5TB and 2TB varieties (all 3.5-inch). Pricing is $118 for Barracuda LP 1TB, $156 for 1.5TB and $358 for the 2TB version.

In another example, Iomega's StorCenter ix2 comes in 1TB ($299) and 2TB ($479) versions and provides a centralized network storage repository. "These are market-based prices," Iomega President Jonathan Huberman told eWEEK. "It's ridiculous how cheap these things are, but it is what it is. A great value for the consumer."

Rebranding SimpleTech to the Hitachi brand is an important step in differentiating the company's  products in the marketplace, said Mike Williams, general manager of Hitachi GST Branded Business.

"We believe that given the global strength of Hitachi, the close relationships we have built with our end users as SimpleTech, and the continued support of our retail and channel partners, we are well-positioned to move our branded business forward," Williams said.

IDC expects worldwide personal storage device shipments to grow from approximately 52 million in 2008 to 123 million in 2012.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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