Hard drive prices still not back to pre-flood levels

Analysts blame Seagate's low profits on depressed hard drive prices, but those of us who pay retail know that just ain't so

I've been watching hard drive prices ever since the devastating floods wiped out much of Thailand's hard drive manufacturing capability, back in October 2011. Hard drive prices went up, then way up -- doubling in the course of a month -- before settling down last May, at about 70 percent above their pre-flood levels.

So when Seagate's quarterly report came out a couple of days ago, I was surprised to read analysts' explanations for its 12 percent year-over-year dip in profits. Some went so far as to state that Seagate's lower-than-expected profits were attributable to plummeting hard drive prices -- below the pre-flood level, according to at least one report.

Although Seagate's wholesale prices may be circling the drain, on the retail side that doesn't match my experience at all. Gigabyte fo -gigabyte, hard drives in my neck of the woods are still more expensive than they were in October 2011.

I pulled up Camelegg, which tracks weekly prices on Newegg.com, and took a look at how certain popular hard drives have fared since the Western Digital facility, in particular, got hit. Here's what I found:

  • The Western Digital Green 2TB drive WD20EADS went from a low of $79 pre-flood, up to a nosebleed $230, and has settled back down at $110. That's still 40 percent higher than before the flood.
  • The Western Digital Green 3TB drive WD30EZRX dipped to $124 before the flood, and it's at $140 now -- a 13 percent increase.

Over on the Seagate side, tracing prices is a touch more difficult because Seagate released a bunch of drives with new model numbers right after the flood. The old model numbers, in many cases, aren't available at Newegg any more. But if you compare the pre-flood Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB ST2000DL003 with the post-flood Seagate Barracuda 2TB ST2000DM001, went from $70, way up to $230 (for the old model) or $290 (for the new model), back to $70 in early December 2012 -- and it's bounced back up again to $110. That's a 60 percent gain in just the past two months.

While Seagate's profitability may be hitting a rough spot, pre-flood pricing just isn't in the equation.

Bring on the SSDs, I say.

This story, "Hard drive prices still not back to pre-flood levels," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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