Intel and Micron double density of NAND flash memory chips, reaching 16GB

New MacBooks Air with SSDs make HDD manufacturers sweat cold

When a company the size and importance of Apple points out a trend and gets it right, almost always someone loses. With the opening of the iTunes Store, CD stores have gone awry. With the iPhone, smartphone makers are struggling to remain relevant. Now that Steve Jobs has taken the stage to say that the future of computing is in solid state drives (or SSDs, based on NAND flash memory), hard drive manufacturers (or HDDs) are feeling deadly chills.

"OM NOM NOM NOM"

See the suffocation by Seagate, which just announced a 17% drop in revenues and a mere 1% rise in profits in the last quarter, and Western Digital, whose revenues were 32% and whose profit increased only 8.5% in the same period, according to a report by Digits. Now compare these performances with that of SanDisk, which grew 32% in revenue and 39% in profit. Yes, things are bad, for those who live on disks spinning madly at high speeds

"The MacBook Air ad is a real stab in the back for Seagate and WD," said Philippe Spruch, chief executive of LaCie (another who must have felt the prick, but who is happily already preparing to embrace SSDs). "The market is moving from hard drives to flash much faster than was expected six months ago."

While some recognize the winds of change, others are still in a phase of denial, as highlighted by Electronist: Steve Luczo, from Seagate, said during his company's results conference that SSDs suffer from high prices, low capacities and a very large degradation of performance in a short time.

He may never have heard of a technology called TRIM, which is already present in Windows Vista / 7 and is probably coming to Mac OS X (because, Microsoft, touch), or has realized that the trend of these technologies is cheaper over time. Luczo believes that hybrid drives should be more successful in the short term, which is different from the idea of ​​two drives that I mentioned here yesterday.

Despite rumors saying that the MacBook Air SSD would be from SanDisk, there has not been any confirmation of this so far.