One Billion Hard Drives and Counting

Today in 2008, Seagate Technology announced that it was the first hard drive manufacturer worldwide to have shipped 1 billion hard drives. The 1 billion hard drives Seagate has delivered equates to approximately 79 million terabytes, able to store 158 billion hours of digital video or 1.2 trillion hours of your favorite music. In 2008,  Seagate was shipping 111,600 Terabytes each day–over one Terabyte of storage every  second–and expected to ship its next billion hard drives in less than five years.

In 2007, Seagate’s CEO Bill Watkins was asked by  Steven Levy, then at Newsweek: “Storage is often dismissed as a commodity. Does this bother you?” Watkins answered: “I don’t think it’s unfair to call it a commodity. I think it’s unfair not to respect a commodity. There’s a tremendous amount of technology in this commodity. More importantly, people don’t recognize that by making this commodity we’ve been able to earn a lot of profit. I’m proud to be a commodity.” Last week, Seagate reported revenue of $4.4 billion for the quarter ended March 30, 2012, gross margin of 37%, net income of $1.1 billion and diluted earnings per share of $2.48. It shipped a record 61 million hard drives in the quarter.

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I launched the Big Data conversation; writing, research, marketing services; &
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