eSys rocks hard drive market

eSys rocks hard drive market

eSys, the Singapore-based components distributor which launched here in May, claims it is on target to reach 40 per cent market share by the end of the year.

It was a figure initially scoffed at by many players in the channel, but in its first quarter of operation in Australia, eSys sold around 20,000 Western Digital hard drives, roughly 10 per cent of the Australian HDD market, according to the distributor.

However, the company has maintained a reasonably low profile in the channel -- most resellers will tell you they haven't bought product from the distributor. This is because most eSys sales go through its sub-distribution network.

"We have partnered with a number of sub-distributors here and they sell the product for us," explained eSys national distribution manager Ian McKinnon. "There are some regional and a couple of national sub-disties and more coming on board as we speak."

McKinnon won't reveal exactly who the sub-distributors are, but the strategy is central to eSys's low-overhead, centralised distribution model. The company ships product directly from its warehouse in Singapore.

"Most people come in and try to set up their own distribution network," McKinnon said. "But why should we do that? There are people out there who have been in the business 10 or 15 years -- they have the client relationships and the networks."

Gartner PC analyst Andy Woo said the 20,000 unit figure was "pretty much in the ball park".

"I haven't heard that much about eSys, but I am not surprised at all by their figures," he said. "The white-box market continues to grow. Shipments in hard drives have gone up in the last quarter and if you use PC boxes as a correlation, it's about right."

Western Digital's other distributors say they haven't been affected by eSys's entry into the market. "I wouldn't say we have felt any competition from them," said Achieva marketing executive Renato Catalan, who remains sceptical of the eSys figures. "Price-wise, they like to be cost-efficient, but they are weak on bundling. That's how we compete -- by cross bundling with other products and we notice our competitors do that as well."

However, Catalan believes Western Digital is not doing itself any favours by continuing to appoint distributors. "Seagate leads the hard drive market, and they only have three [distributors]," he said.

Westan also had a good quarter, moving slightly more than the 20,000 Western Digital units that eSys sold. Westan managing director Victor Aghtan said it is not unusual for the hard drive vendor to hold 20 per cent of the Australian market, but some distributors were suffering.

McKinnon also believes the market will see consolidation in the coming months but said eSys is hoping to expand its reach. "We still have a couple of things we want to do with hard drives," he told ARN. "We are not currently distributing in Western Australia, for instance."

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