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Seagate heading for the wild west

A romp with cowboy Bill

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In a storage press event today, Seagate said it was going to produce a network-attached storage (NAS) product for the home and and a hard drive able to plug into a TV and play media content. Its coming enterprise solid state drive will combine single and multi-level cell technology and a second attempt at hybrid drives will be made next year.

The home

Seagate CEO Bill Watkins said Seagate tries generally not to compete with its channel but the home market is like the wild west and, we can infer, Seagate is free to stake its claim there. Seagate has its home storage lines and EMC bought Iomega, so it is competing with Seagate. He said the home market is the hot, hot market right now, and: "We're going to enterprise the home."

You get the feeling that if Seagate thinks it can sell drives, raw or packaged in some device, better than its channel in still-developing markets then it will go right ahead and do so.

Pat King, his SVP for global marketing, carefully said Seagate would introduce a home NAS system, a box to store the media-rich content being created in, and downloaded to, the home. It seems this will be a home device through branding and the channel, so not to become a cheap business NAS box.

Watkins added that he thought the La Cies and Buffaloes and similar - implying Iomega methinks - selling HDDS into the home had a problem, as they bought drives from Seagate and others and then competed with their own drive suppliers for home storage sales. They had a margin problem: "It's a tough battle. There's no way for them to be competitive on costs."

Separately, Pat King said we'd see a Seagate drive in the middle of next year that could be docked into a TV and stream content for playing. It would have a remote control for users to get the device working. The dock would be an HDMI or composite video plug type connector. He didn't say the NAS box would plug into the TV but such a connection might be reasonable. He didn't say Seagate would introduce a media player like Western Digital's or an Apple TV-type box. But if the home is the wild west, then Seagate could start staking claims anywhere it likes in that territory.

King sees a need for a home storage server that accepts content from various content creation devices - and, presumably, over the net - and then streams it to content playing devices. He didn't say anything about wireless connectivity or about backup or about encryption here but it is pre-product launch time, by many months, and who knows what the roadmap contains and how it will develop.

Seagate doesn't think home users will store much on Google. HDD cost/GB will always be two or three times less than the cost/GB of Internet bandwidth and the company can't see that relationship changing. Networks will be used to send content to hard drives or between hard drives, not to replace hard drives. The cloud is a transmission medium, not a storage medium

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