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Report: Western Digital Confirmed Top Disk Drive Maker

A new report confirmed Western Digital Corp.’s status as the biggest maker of disk drives for computers and consumer electronics, officially ending the long reign of Scotts Valley-based Seagate Technology LLC.

During the first quarter, Lake Forest-based Western Digital shipped a record 51.1 million disk drives, up 3% from the fourth quarter, according to a report from El Segundo-based market tracker iSuppli Corp.

Seagate shipped 50.3 million drives during the same period, up less than 1% from the fourth quarter.

Seagate, which had a recent market value of $7 billion, still beat Western Digital on revenue.

The company posted $3.1 billion in first-quarter revenue, compared with Western Digital’s $2.64 billion in revenue.

“Despite a second-place finish in shipment levels, Seagate’s larger revenue total is attributed to its serving the high-end enterprise sector, which garners larger financial returns,” said Fang Zhang, analyst for storage systems at iSuppli. “In comparison, Western Digital employed a lower-cost business model that translated into reduced average selling prices and less revenue—but higher unit shipments.”

Rounding out the top five in disk drive shipments for the first quarter were Hitachi Global Storage Technologies Ltd. in third place, Irvine’s Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. in fourth place and Samsung Electronics Co. in fifth place.

Western Digital and Seagate will continue to jockey for the top position, according to iSuppli’s Zhang.

Much depends on new product offerings, maintaining existing business while being able to penetrate new markets and keeping up with industry swings in supply and demand, he said.

Western Digital has had a tough go on Wall Street lately. The company has seen its shares fall 21% since the start of the year on a recent market value of nearly $8 billion. That’s after gains of nearly 300% in 2009.

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