SSD’s doesn’t worry hard drive makers

While munching on a reuben at Birk’s, a steakhouse in Silicon Valley, Seagate (STX) CEO Bill Watkins is explaining why he’s not too worried about a these trendy new laptops that have everything but a hard drive.

On the surface, this would seem to be a big problem. Seagate, after all, is the world’s largest hard drive maker with expected sales of more than $3 billion this quarter – so Watkins likes to see his wares go into more gadgets, not fewer. It’s easy to see why he tends not to favor devices like Lenovo’s sleek ThinkPad X300, which is winning raves for its light weight and silent operation, and its 64-gigabyte flash storage drive.

And the X300 isn’t the only laptop that’s doing without a hard drive in favor of a flash solid state drive, or SSD. A version of Apple’s (AAPL) MacBook Air also comes with 64 gigabytes of flash. And there are other defectors, like the diminutive Eee PC from ASUS.

But the key thing, Watkins argues, is that SSDs are just too expensive, and will be for a long time. Just look at the MacBook Air. There are two versions of the Apple laptop, one with an 80 GB hard drive for $1,800, and one with a 64 GB SSD for $3,100. Why pay so much more for less storage? It’s not a difficult choice.

“Realistically, I just don’t see the flash notebook sell,” Watkins says. “We just don’t see the proposition.” (link)

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