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1TB Hard Drive Prices up 180% in a Month (zorinaq.com)
143 points by mrb on Nov 6, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 53 comments

This is a pretty good concrete example of why Kryder's law[1] and related laws are phenomenological observations rather than laws of nature. Good to cite in a slide deck if you need an explicit example of when exponential progress was stopped.

It took something pretty big, and it took a direct hit. For example, Moore's law itself looks to have continued without noticeable interruption [2] through Katrina, the financial crisis, and the Japanese tsunami.

But now, for the first time in recent memory, real storage costs will be increasing rather than decreasing for a fairly prolonged period. Fortunately, the knowledge required to resume the exponential curve after these floods remains undamaged.

[1] Moore's Law for storage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Kryder#Kryder.27s_Law

[2] Moore's law through 2011: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Transistor_Count_and_Moore...

Moore's and Kryder's law are about feasible storage/transistor fabrication density increasing, not about whether or not those advances translate into savings for the consumer.

To bad prices did not actually rise 180% in a month or you could link to that article. As to why he shows a graph which demonstrates what he is saying is a lie... Vs showing 60-140 = 133% price jump which is still huge.

PS: Look for 1 month where the prices increased 180%.

If you find yourself wanting a hard drive more now, than you did before reading this, be aware of this effect:


"""Scarcity, as that term is used in social psychology, is when things become more desirable as they appear less obtainable.

Buyers for supermarkets, told by a supplier that beef was in scarce supply, gave orders for twice as much beef as buyers told it was readily available. Buyers told that beef was in scarce supply, and furthermore, that the information about scarcity was itself scarce - that the shortage was not general knowledge - ordered six times as much beef. (Since the study was conducted in a real-world context, the information provided was in fact correct.) (Knishinsky 1982.)"""

That doesn't seem like a flaw of human psychology; aside from perhaps believing the researcher's lies.

If you normally buy a pound of beef per week, and you believe that the price will be much higher next week, it's rational to buy extra and freeze it.

HDs are somewhat of a special case, because it's really just a supply interruption. By the time I need another hard drive, the prices will probably be back to normal or perhaps even lower. But it's still not irrational to think: "should I try to get one of those while I can?".

But it's still not irrational to think: "should I try to get one of those while I can?"

If you have a use for one, you could think "is the current price still good enough value for me", and if you have no use for one, then you could ignore it.

It's when you have no specific use for one and weren't planning to buy one, but now you're thinking "should I try to get one of those while I can?", that it seems like a psychological flaw.

"If you have a use for one, you could think "is the current price still good enough value for me", and if you have no use for one, then you could ignore it."

It's about the future, too. If you think that the value to you in 2 months will exceed the price today, then it is rational to purchase it now (even if the value to you today is zero). It becomes more urgent when you think that the price in 2 months (when you need it) will be significantly higher.

Additionally, humans are risk-averse, and a known price today is less risky than an unknown price in the future.

HDs might be a special case as you can't tell when they break down. You are always in a position where you might need one tomorrow. Except if you keep piles of spare, but as HDs used to get cheaper constantly, that'not a common strategy for price sensible buyers.

It isn't a flaw, but it is exploitable.

Reminds me of the great toilet paper shortage of 1973.

After a popular evening talk show host made a joke that there was an acute shortage of toilet paper in the United States. The next morning, 20 million viewers bought up all the toilet paper they could find. By noon that day, most stores were out of toilet paper for months.

HD prices right now are reacting the same way gas pump prices go up when crude does, even though their local tanks are full.

Quick to rise, slow to fall. The real crisis will be at the end of November. But the market won't recover until next year.

Good for SSD I guess which already had falling prices.

ps. HD103SJ is a fantastic drive but bad for price comparisons since it almost never went below $50 - Seagate also bought Samsung's HD division so who know what is going to happen to those great drives now.

"HD prices right now are reacting the same way gas pump prices go up when crude does, even though their local tanks are full."

Isn't that what should happen? When there is a supply interruption, then the local inventory needs to last longer. The primary way to make that happen in a market economy is for prices to rise.

The inventory doesn't need to last longer: it needs to yield a higher margin, because you're going to sell fewer units.

It's meaningless to talk about what an individual seller "needs", because they may get much more than they "need" or they may get much less than they "need". In short, the sellers get what they can; regardless of what they "need".

I was using the word "need" loosely ("needs to last longer") to mean that it's the economically desirable result for the population at large. If the limited supply lasts longer, then it's still available to those who have the greatest desire for the product (e.g. a company with disks failing in production).

The rising prices during a supply interruption seem to be the market working. By that I don't mean it's perfect; I mean if you don't like prices to rise when supply is interrupted, you probably don't like market economies at all.

Good for SSD manufacturers as they don't have to drop prices as quickly. I don't think any SSD manufacturer is in a mad rush to make SSDs come down to anywhere near even the current bloated hard drive prices. Anyone who was in need of a 1TB HDD sure isn't going to find any bargains on 1TB SSDs.

And good for Apple since they purchase all their SSDs years in advance for highly discounted prices.

SSD is likely to be unaffected. Thailand don't produce SSD, only hard drives.

Demand for SSDs will rise due to lower cost differential between HDD and SSD, causing their prices to at least stay even, but maybe rise temporarily.

From what I've heard, that's because they use the money from selling the current supply to pay for the next shipment.

If you think about this for a minute, how could it work any other way?

Bad for comparison? The HD103SJ was within $5 of the cheapest 1TB drives at their lowest of $45 (on Newegg).

Oddly enough, I just bought a 1 TB networked HD for $99: http://www.amazon.com/Seagate-FreeAgent-GoFlex-Home-STAM1000... which seems so far unaffected by the price increases. This leads to the odd situation where it would be cheaper to buy the enclosure, rip the hard drive out and throw the rest in the trash than to buy a naked drive.

edit: even cheaper: http://www.amazon.com/Seagate-FreeAgent-GoFlex-External-STAC... 3TB for $132 compared to $250 for the naked drive.

You should note that most companies flag the serial numbers of the drives inside bundled enclosures.

I had a 1TB WD MyBook I picked up some years ago, eventually installing the drive in my tower some time later, and just under the 3 year warranty it started failing. When looking into getting it replaced the drive's serial number would always return the MyBook product, not the WD10EACS that was inside it. If I was to return it, I would have to re-install it into the enclosure, and make sure the "warranty is void if broken" sticker which I naturally broke removing the drive, was unbroken. I've also seen similar with Seagate FreeAgent bundled external drives.

What are the chances that some news crunching system at a trading firm caught up on this development and predicted the up side on the Seagate stock? I am interested from the technology point of view. Do we have deployed systems that are able to pick up on such connections?

I've heard of a trading company doing something like this: they parse Bloomberg's news stream for keywords and place orders accordingly.

Not sure they'd be able to connect flood in Taiwan with, say, Seagate stock based on Seagate NOT having plants in TW. Shorting stocks of the companies in electronics industry or some index like NASDAQ is feasible, though.

That is simple to implement. All industry members in Thailand (not Taiwan) take a hit. All competitors to companies that take a hit get a bonus.

Don't need a computer for that, when one has analysts. I posted a business article about this three weeks ago, and it sank like a stone. Traders know exactly where big factories are.

You do need a computer to act on the information before everyone else has the same information though.

I wouldn't think getting HD-making-factories flooded is such a good thing for HD-manufacturers.

I'll be the other side of this trade.

Lets build it!

Yeah, the supply chain took a pretty decent hit with Western Digital (they make about a third of the market's HDs and are saying production will be 50% lower than usual on their end).

Supply / demand is pretty slanted and it will take probably take while for things to work themselves out:

HDD Demand: 180 mm units HDD Supply: 130 mm units

That's the big downside to having these lean supply chains, a slight hit to one manufacturing site can have a big effect globally.

Apart from the direct hit, there's also indirect hit by suspension of NIDEC factories (which NIDEC itself supplies 80% of hard drive motors[1]) which has at least five factories located in the flooded area.

[1]: http://seekingalpha.com/article/220546

I probably average spending around six hundred dollars a month on hard drives, before the price hike, so I've been watching this closely.

what I found interesting was that prices shot up almost immediately if you buy on line or through a distribution channel, but at Fry's? it took over a week, and even now, prices are lower at Fry's than at newegg, if fry's has stock.

That's the kicker; 'enterprise' stock at Fry's is hit or miss at the best of times.

On the other hand, Fry's quickly started getting serious about the 'limit X' - normally, if you want ten hard drives marked "limit 2" you ask a sales person, and they print you out five quotes. You take it to the front and get your ten drives. Not anymore. Now they actually limit you to the limit.

I was able to buy enough 2tb RE4 drives to hopefully carry me through the end of the year.

The other thing I did right away was test my stash of used and questionable drives, and return the bad ones. That's another 10 or 15 drives right there, The testing took a period of days (and I returned bad drives as I found them) - the replacements are trickling back, and it looks like all of them, at this point, are in the mail. But if this behavior was common, e.g. people that had large stashes of broken drives laying about that they returned all at once when news of the shortage hit? I can only imagine that the stresses on their stock for warranty returns are making the problem worse.

Oh, also note, I have some 3tb, 7200rpm 'consumer grade' drives (hatachi and seagate) new, sealed, that I bought for a storage project that is suddenly looking not as realistic. I'd be willing to trade them for 'enterprise' drives of smaller capacities; contact me if you have 500g 'raid edition' drives or similar and want to trade.

Part of the problem is the actual damage and supply chain shortages, the other part is people overreact and then make a run on the devices that are in short supply. If you follow some of the hardcore system builder and tweaker forums people are going into local shops and clearing the shelves for no reason at all.

For individuals that need the drives, there's a pretty good reason: others are doing it anyway. Once you take that into account, game theory says you should deviate from the globally optimal strategy as well.

There has been little question SSDs are the next wave in 40 years of storage disruption. The floods seems to come at a particularly bad time in the disruption cycle, as SSDs are just getting closer to mainstream capacities and costs.

SSD manufactures could use this to put a large nail in the HDD casket. Drop prices so the difference in cost per GB is less and start up a big marketing effort.

Professional hard drives are almost impossible to find, at any price. The price for the highest-end (therefore most demanded by capacity hungry customers) 3 TB pro drives went up more than 100%, and there aren't available anywhere anyway.

I have just enough stock to ship customers until end of November (a couple hundred terabytes) then...

If you have a shortage, raise the price until you don't.

Unfortunately most of what's in stock has been already sold at the previous price. And we're selling new equipment, so most customers will simply delay investment until the price goes back to the normal trend.

I just beat the prices because 3 months ago I bought a 2TB HDD from Amazon for $85 and now it is at $150 for a new one http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004VFJ9MK and I got my little brother a HDD for $65 and that one is $125 now http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00461LT6S

Pace microtechnology, one of the worlds largest set-top box & satellite tv receiver manufacturers, released a market statement revising their profits downward due to the flooding. They use western digital HDDs in their boxes. http://investegate.co.uk/Article.aspx?id=201110200700235290Q

Floods in Thailand have closed several major factories that manufacture hard drive disks.

Pathum Thani, where these factories are, was hit hard by the floods.

Our local compusa story has signs all over the door saying "only one hard drive per person per day". I figured it must have been some disaster shut down some factories. Their prices are still relatively cheap, but as their supplies go down I suspect the prices will creep up.

where do you guys get which harddrive performs better?

Tom's Hardware, Anandtech.

I haven't noticed SSD prices go up though.

One might hope the increased cost of mechanical disks will increase demand for SSDs, shortening the time for SSD costs to drop enough to be competitive with the older technology.

SSD prices also might not be affected at all by these floods: the fabrication process for silicon is almost certainly completely different to that for magnetic drives, and likely to happen in completely different factories (in other locations not dependent on the local resources that attract manufacturers to build magnetic fabs in Thailand).

According to this pricing, 1, 1.5, and 2 Tb drives are all within $5 of each other - $140, $139.50, and $144 respectively.

Yeah I noticed that too, which makes me think, why would I ever buy the 1TB drive when 1.5 is CHEAPER? And $4.50 more for another 500GB? Probably taking that deal.

Higher bit density from the same manufacturer at a similar price suggests a less reliable drive.

Or that the smaller one is older and you're paying a price for that niche effect. (e.g. at the very low end, you can't get a 20Gb disk for $0.99, what you typically get (not right now though) is a large range of sizes, say 160Gb to 1TB, all within a few dollars).

1TB drives were first announced in Jan 2007, nearly 5 years ago, is that long enough to push them out of the main manufacturing effort?

New 1 TB models just came out, so obsolescence doesn't explain the pricing.

The new drives you're talking about are probably 1TB single-platter drives, which would have different pricing dynamics from 1TB three-platter drives.

and faster seek.

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