Feeds

Seagate CEO flips patent finger at SSD makers

But now's not the time for lawsuits, apparently

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Seagate's CEO said he believes manufacturers of solid-state drives are treading on his company's technological toes. But in an interview, Bill Watkins hinted that Seagate won't sue unless SSDs become more popular.

Speaking to Fortune magazine, Watkins said that right now laptops with SSDs are just too expensive and deliver too little storage capacity.

True. Right now, SSD-equipped notebooks carry considerably higher price tags than models with HDDs. There's an appeal in a drive that doesn't go tits up if it's dropped, though now that most laptops have accelerometers to detect sudden drops, the chances of a fall completely ruining a hard drive have been minimised.

But the fact is, even then an SSD is more resilient than an HDD. Assuming the two formats are matched on performance - the jury's still out on whether SSDs make a significant improvement here - that just makes resilience even more the key selling point.

Watkins also reckons the lower capacity of SSDs is a factor, but not everyone needs a colossal storage space. With 128GB SSDs just round the corner, that's going to be far less of an issue. Anecdotally, plenty of laptop owners we know require less than 80GB of laptop storage capacity.

That being the case, and as Flash prices plunge, SSD will surely become more popular. If so, that's when Watkins will call his lawyers. Watkins claims his company's patent portfolio - Western Digital's too, he suggests - cover many if not all of the ways storage devices talk to computers. But it's not hard to imagine firms that have been around as long as Seagate has will have quite a few others that might also take on devices, or parts of devices, like SSDs.

Except, of course, why isn't he suing now? The products are available to buy, and even SSD purchased means an HDD stays on a shelf somewhere, quite possibly in a Seagate warehouse. Companies on the receiving end of Seagate lawsuits relating to SSDs will, reasonably, argue that if it's not a problem for Seagate in March 2008, why is it a problem at that point in time.

In any case, lawsuits won't kill SSDs. They might make them a little more expensive, but in the timescale Watkins appears to have in mind, they'll be cheap enough for that not to make much of a difference anyway.

Patent violation lawsuits almost always end in out-of-court licensing agreements. Seagate will get a big payout, the defendants will simply amortise that across all the drives they expect to sell in the future.

Seagate will have entered the SSD market long before then. Indeed, Watkins last year said it would do so this year...

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

More from The Register

next story
Report: American tech firms charge Britons a thumping nationality tax
Without representation, too. Time for a Boston (Lincs) Macbook Party?
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple ran off to IBM
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Apple gets patent for WRIST-PUTER: iTime for a smartwatch
It does everything a smartwatch should do ... but Apple owns it
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Child diagnosed as allergic to iPad
Apple's fondleslab is the tablet dermatitis sufferers won't want to take
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
For Lenovo US, 8-inch Windows tablets are DEAD – long live 8-inch Windows tablets
Reports it's killing off smaller slabs are greatly exaggerated
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.