Just about two and a half years ago Seagate Technology celebrated the shipment of its one billionth hard disk drive (HDD) and promised to ship another billion in five years from then. It looks like the company is on track as on Wednesday it said that it had hit the one and a half billion shipped HDD milestone.
Seagate announced it reached the delivery of its 1.5 billionth drive as of October 20, 2010, which is almost exactly two and a half years after shipping its one billionth HDD, Seagate celebrated its billionth hard drive sold on April 22, 2008. At the time, the one billion of drives equated to 79 million terabytes (or 79ExaBytes, 79EB or 79 quintillion bytes), while the 1.5 billion hard drives delivered last month equates to approximately 118.5 million terabytes (118.5EB or 118.5 quintillion bytes), according to Seagate.
While it is spectacular that Seagate managed to ship half of a billion drives in just 2.5 years, there are a lot of challenges for the company ahead. First of all, this year Seagate lost the crown of the largest maker of hard drives, which was partly a result of relatively inefficient cost structure of the company. Secondly, solid-state drives are gaining momentum nowadays and are threatening Seagate's lucrative enterprise HDD business. But apart from challenges there are also prospects and the demand towards storage space will likely drive demand towards hard drives up in the coming years.
The history of Seagate Technology is not only a brilliant example of a successful manufacturer, but also represents a colossal leap storage technology has made in the last three decades. In 1979, Seagate’s first product, the ST506 hard drive, could store 5MB of data. The drive weighed about five pounds and cost $1500, $300 per megabyte or $300 000 per gigabyte. Today, Seagate's largest hard drive offers 3TB of data storage space and costs $199, which means that the cost of a gigabyte is now roughly $0.06 (6 cents).