Google's call for cloudier, taller disks is a tall order says analyst

Or maybe not, if the weird 7-pin SATA drives disk-makers cooked for Apple are repeatable

Storage analyst firm Trend Focus says Google's call for the storage industry to make more cloud-friendly disks is a tall order.

Google recently threw down the gauntlet to disk-makers, asking for taller, denser and smarter disks that would help it to lower costs and scale its storage rigs to even greater heights.

Trend Focus' John Kim thinks Google has good ideas, but that disk-makers and their component suppliers won't bite because they're already struggling in a shrinking market.

For example, Statista reckons unit shipments of hard drives fell from 141 million in the December quarter of 2014, down to 114 million in the same quarter of 2015.

Those struggles, and the fact that taller denser disks would eventually mean lower sales, mean Kim thinks the disk industry just won't rise to Google's bait.

Apple provides a counter-weight to Kim's arguments, as Cupertino's 2011-era iMacs shipped with a disk boasting a seven-PIN SATA connector. Conventional SATA connectors offer four pins. The change meant that only drives provided by Apple, and constructed by a supplier willing to make a proprietary disk, would work in iMacs of the era.

The iMac sells a few million units a year, well below the quantity of disks Google adds each year, so perhaps Kim's assessment of the disk supply chain is unduly pessimistic. Or perhaps he's right and Apple's famous commitment to integration of hardware and software meant it was willing to tolerate extra costs that Google clearly finds unpalatable. ®


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