Fujitsu aims to become bigger hard-disk player

Fujitsu aims to become bigger hard-disk player

Fujitsu plans to expand its hard-disk drive business with a target of becoming a world top three drive maker by 2008, it said Friday.

Fujitsu has set out last a strategy that it hopes will propel its hard-disk drive business to grow at about three times the pace of the overall market between now and 2008 to place it among the world's three largest hard-disk drive makers at the end of the period.

The Tokyo-based company was hoping to ride on the back of an anticipated increase in demand for hard-disk drives for consumer electronics and laptop PCs, corporate senior vice-president of Fujitsu, Ichiro Komura, said.

Fujitsu expects worldwide demand for 2.5-inch mobile PC drives to rise from 8.1 million in 2005 to 21 million units in 2010 and for 1.8-inch drives to rise from 1.6 million units to 9 million units over the same period.

The company wants to increase its drive shipments to 5.4 million units in 2008, which is just over double the 2.6 million drives it shipped in 2005. To achieve this goal, it plans to focus on the expanding market for 2.5-inch drives for both consumer electronics products and laptop PCs, begin making 2.5-inch drives for servers, and enter the 1.8-inch drive market for laptops and products such as portable digital music players.

Demand from consumer electronics makers was likely to play an increasingly important role in the hard-disk drive market, Komura said.

In 2005, the non-IT market represented about 20 per cent of the overall market but this is expected to grow to one-third in 2008 and 44 percent in 2010, according to Fujitsu figures.

One of the fast-growing sectors is for 1.8-inch hard-disk drives. Such drives are currently used in products such as Apple's iPod music player and Fujitsu isn't in this market. To break into this market, Fujitsu will tie-up with Cornice to develop a 1.8-inch drive.

Cornice currently manufactures 1-inch drives that are used in a range of portable music players and some cell phones but doesn't have a 1.8-inch drive either so the deal marks an expansion for both companies.

"1.8-inch is exploding right now," president and CEO of Cornice, Camillo Martino, said. "The new Apple iPod volumes are just phenomenal. Companies such as Toshiba and Hitachi are benefiting from that. I think the market will continue to expand very rapidly and it will create many opportunities for suppliers in the next few years."

Fujitsu hoped to unveil the first product from the joint development, a 120GB drive, sometime between April and September of 2007, it said.

All sales of the first-generation drive developed under the partnership would be handled by Fujitsu, it said.

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