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WD charms channel

Hard drive giant Western Digital (WD) put on a show to charm the Middle East channel at the launch event for its Raptor X hard drive. WD teamed up with regional distribution partner FDC at an evening event for the reseller community.

Hard drive giant Western Digital (WD) put on a show to charm the Middle East channel at the launch event for its Raptor X hard drive. WD teamed up with regional distribution partner FDC at an evening event for the reseller community.

B. Scott Davis, VP worldwide sales at WD, was on hand at the event in Dubai to outline the vendor’s strategy for 2006 and to thank regional channel partners for their sales efforts to date. The event also included technical presentations covering the specification of the Raptor X drive and prize giveaways for resellers that managed to correctly answer questions on the new product and WD’s market strategy.

“We see a tremendous growth opportunity in emerging markets,” said Davis. “Last year, WD gained four points worldwide in terms of its channel share and we have seen solid growth in markets outside the US.”

“Our Middle East market share is pretty strong — around 35%. However, we still believe there is room to differentiate our offering and grow even further. It is all about the ‘three Ps’ for WD: people, partners and products,” he added.

With Seagate’s proposed acquisition of Maxtor set to close later this year, the hard drive space will experience significant change as the number of top tier suppliers is effectively reduced. Knock-on effects are expected, not just in terms of the distribution landscape, but also in terms of the buying patterns of major A-brand PC vendors.

“There is an opportunity for WD through the proposed merger of Seagate and Maxtor, as long as we handle it right,” explained Davis. “The deal should bring more stability to the market. Naturally, there will be some change in purchasing patterns once that deal goes through. But it is important to remember that besides WD and Seagate, there will be other vendors such as Samsung and Hitachi GST in the market.”

WD is working hard to build up its position in the consumer-focused external hard drive space. The vendor has also expanded its product portfolio to address even more of the total addressable market across all hard drive form factors.

“We have doubled our sales force outside the US in the last 18 months,” said Davis. “There is a massive opportunity in the consumer electronics space and also in the external hard drive market. However, instead of selling external drives as bit buckets, we need to personalise the product in the same way that Apple did with the iPod — we have to start talking about how many photos or movies a device can store.”

“For our 2.5” hard drives, three out of the top five notebook vendors are customers. Now we have taken a strategic decision to make these products available to the channel as well. We want to grow our market position in high growth geographies such as China, Russia, India, the Middle East and Latin America. We will make continued headcount investment in these markets,” he continued.

“WD is taking its profitability and investing this into new platforms. We now have a product portfolio that covers 90% of the total addressable market for hard drives of all formats. There is no reason why we cannot have 45% market share in the Middle East if we continue to delight our customers. We really appreciate the efforts of distribution partners such as FDC that have done a great job promoting our products in the Middle East,” Davis concluded.

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