back to article Flash price-drop pops Western Digital's wallet: Surprise revenue fall with worse to come

Western Digital's revenues are dropping and set to get worse because of poor flash product sales and declines in pricing. Revenues in the first quarter of fiscal 2019 ended 28 September, were 3 per cent down year-on-year to $5bn. Profits were $511m, down 24 per cent. Operating cash flow was $705m, compared to $1.133bn last …

  1. Lee D

    Haven't bought a hard drive in years.

    Don't intend to unless it's a seriously high-end thing for a server that has to be certified and firmware'd up, etc.

    I see no reason that SSD/NVMe can't be your main product now and your sole product in years to come.

    I'll do you a deal. Gimme a 1Tb SSD that's "only just" faster than an hard drive but comes with the tiny space, the no-moving-parts, non-hermetically-sealed boxes and the same price, and I'll buy dozens of them tomorrow.

    Then you can slowly ramp the speeds back up to what they are now (i.e. Ludicrous Speed) and increase capacity as you go. Then in a few years time, I'll buy the same amount of 5Tb SSDs for the same price. And so on.

    I honestly don't understand why HDDs even exist any more, or why companies that used to make HDDs are considered at all the people to get SSDs etc. from - entirely different technology and processes and they didn't see it coming and now they're reeling.

    My Samsung 1Tb (which is stupendously expensive) has been in use for... 5 years straight. And it's still only £50 cheaper on Amazon than it was when I bought it.

    I blame them focusing far too much on trying to justify their old business, and failing to get on board and ramp up SSD / Flash etc. It's like when I was watching Kodak produce printers and new cameras and films while everyone else was already using digital cameras.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I honestly don't understand why HDDs even exist any more..."

      I hope for more like you because I need the price on these cheapo HDD's to drop, and drop generously like they did with floppies.

      My Nikon.raw files come in at ~50MB a piece and even the videos off my phone are hitting a total of ~35GB, and those are just the compressed source files. Then there is the _CRITICAL_ movie's for the kids which are now being released in 4K, which even the animated ones are big now. The games can be ran off a SSD temporarily but not for permanent storage, and the size of games now... the new Read Dead Redemption 2 is ridiculous. Too bad none of that can be clouded.

      But sure, HDD companies should stop making them and clearance out most of the stock, 75% off works.

    2. Nate Amsden Silver badge

      I just bought two 8TB WD Gold drives myself. Was tempted to go to 12TB though 8TB is double what I have on my storage system these days(4x2TB RAID 10). How much do 8TB SSDs cost now?

      1. DCFusor

        Someone downvoting all the HD lovers? I'll take a hit for the team myself. They have their place here, among, yes, lots of SSDs too.

        Huge capacity per penny, the ability of just one very cheap NAS type (slow spin) drive to pretty much saturate GB ethernet (I use odroid HC2's as a very full featured NAS with linux, one with only Open Media Vault) and the ability to power down almost totally - I note all my SSD's stay quite warm no matter what - make them a good deal for the slowest layer of the storage hierarchy here.

        I can (and do) have 4, tb drive/cpu setups, not all in the same building, each specialized to serve whatever I need (LAN of things, internal bulletin board, web servers with CGIs that control stuff in the lab and do data acq), that also do cron driven rolling backups - at any one time I have physically and temporally dispersed backups of code and data that has taken years to build up, and I'd hate to lose it.

        I got the drives and the computers for less than the cost of SSD alone that size would be.

        Hate to quote that guy, but quantity DOES have a quality all it's own. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE SSD drives, this laptop has 2 of them, and it's not my main machine at all. But....that size per buck and per joule - the mostly spun down HDDs do have a valid place in the scheme of things.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "...quantity DOES have a quality all it's own."

          Damn straight. Even if all I did was surf the web I would still find something for the super cheap $100 8TB HDD. I have SSD's too, but as I sit right now, I'd rather have cheaper system memory than cheaper SSD's. 1TB of system memory at non-server prices would remove some doors that SSD's are currently jamming open. Don't get me wrong, I love SSD's too, but something about them seems less like progress and more like a stop gap to something better.

        2. dnicholas

          "Hate to quote that guy, but quantity DOES have a quality all it's own."

          Darn straight. My SANs wouldn't be any faster with all SSD drives, network throughput takes care of that.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I have 22 x 4TB disks in my array at home (3xRAIDZ2+1 spare). Will be adding some 8 or 10TB drives next, don't think i will be going SSD for a while, due to price.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "...10TB drives"

          I'd be weary of 5TB or 10TB drives, or am I the only one who finds non-binary capacities strangely cursed with problems? Call it carma, bad luck, negative bias or whatever... they never fail to fail.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I wait for backblaze to have data on drives for a year or two and then buy based upon that. I have bought HGST based upon backblaze results, out of the 22 drives, 1 has failed in the 1.5-3 years I have had them (bought drives in groups at different times and added to the array).

            Before I had some seagate 1.5TB and 2TB drives (around 15 in total) not based on backblaze results. All of them were dead after 4 years.

  2. HamsterNet


    When a market demand falls you can do one of two things.

    Drop prices to maintain or grow market share.

    Drop production to attempt to increase the price, but at the cost of your market share.

    WD seems to say they are going to do both!

    WD drives, even their latest and greatest m.2s are outclassed by Samsung drives in terms of performance and warranty at exactly the same price. Wish they would actually compleat rather than the cartel anticompetitive behaviour they keep being caught doing. That way we could have replaced spinnign rust long ago and actully have much larger drives than the 2TB(first 4TB has just been anounced) we seem to have ben stuck at in flash since 2015

  3. OldSoCalCoder

    I have 2 pcs literally sitting side by side. One running on a 4 year old i5 intel booting win 10 off of hard drive, another 7th gen i5 intel booting linux Ubuntu 18.04 off of WD ssd. Both have 8G of mem. Is the linux box incredibly, mind-blowingly faster? I just installed Netbeans IDE on both, and I don't see a difference in the IDE startup times. If an application depends on internet speed the determining factor will be how fast you're getting data off the wire and there's nothing you can do about that. I was at Fry's yesterday and saw a 1TB WD ssd for $299. How much for 1TB of hard drive? Max $50.

    As to the article - this really shows the retail pc market is still tanking. I can see how the consumer saying 'spend $800 on a smartphone or buy a new pc?' is almost a no-brainer if all they're doing is surfing the web and watching cat videos.

    Have all the big guys (FANG) built out their storage silos, saying 'Nah, we're good for now'? I don't get that. We're storing more consumer activity from more (IoT, etc) sources than ever. How is business demand going down? The other reason FANG business storage demand should be rising is the use of cloud storage from the consumer smartphone. All those pictures of Uncle Fred's 80th birthday have to go somewhere.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      50 per TB? Still too high.

      800 smartphone? Well, it's getting to the point where we don't have a choice.

      "All those pictures of Uncle Fred's 80th birthday have to go somewhere."

      To net based storage. Point'n click pics that are shared go straight to some online service, well, at least 95% (guess). Some people don't even understand that the pic is in the phone itself, but thanks to most cloud services it might not be, as they actually suggest for you to delete it after upload!!(I find this fucking nuts)!!

  4. Glen 1

    <strike>Slightly</strike> off topic

    The problem I'm having at the moment is in using a spinning disk via usb3 to a router with usb port. The disk takes tens of seconds to spin up, but the timeout for them spinning down is a minute or two.

    When accessing via SMB, they take so long to spin up that sometimes the read times out. Add to that when reading a video file directly, the gaps between reads are sometimes long enough for the drive to spin down, resulting in whatever I'm using to play it sorting the bed. Defeats the point in having it if I can't use it.

    Mines the one with the hdparam manual in the pocket.

  5. dnicholas

    Surely price decline in your materials (i.e. flash) should mean declining turnover but your margins should be fairly stable if you're operating a storage business?*

    I suppose that reads better than "we dun fudged up".

    * I've probably ready this wrong because it's Saturday and beer o'clock came at lunch time, blame the short days

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Many uninformed types can't understand the storage<->IOPS economic continuum.

    Here are the three clues they need.

    1) Some data needs lowest cost/capacity -- that data will always live on spinning disks (or even tape).

    2) Some data needs lowest cost/access, that data will always live in DRAM (or even in faster cache memories)

    3) In between these two extremes, NAND Flash sometimes provides an alternative.

    Whenever you hear someone complaining about the continued existence of magnetic media, you can be confident that you are hearing the voice of ignorance.

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