AV Drives To Buttress Growth: Western Digital


5 Aug 2011
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In an exclusive interview, Martin Jefferson, Director, Business Marketing, EMEA, Audio Video Products, and Sushil Bandi, Country Manager, Indian Subcontinent, Western Digital, share the company’s future road map. Excerpts:

CRN: WD is betting big on its AV drives.
Martin Jefferson (MF): Audio visual (AV) drives are the biggest part of our business today. About 40 percent of the 150 million drives shipped every year are from Western Digital.
In the next two to three quarters, the demand for AV drives will increase. That will in turn drive the demand for set-top boxes. Vendors will soon be selling millions of STBs, as opposed to thousands they are selling today. The buying pattern too will change. Apart from bigger players such as Tata Sky and Reliance, more consumers will buy STBs.
Sushil Bandi (SB): Drive-led STBs will be in vogue. We are also setting up the infrastructure and resources to meet this demand. The drives would be more popular because of the value-adds. The other big market is external drives. An AV needs to be optimized for data streaming. Our AV drives manage the intensity (90 percent write and 10 percent read).

CRN: Your closest competition Seagate is equally aggressive.
MF and SB: We have four internal HDDs each in the desktop, mobile, AV and enterprise segments. We have disk drives from entry level to 3TB. Seagate is a strong player in the enterprise segment, where we are limited. But in the external HD segment, with Mybooks and MyPassport, we have the broadest range of products.
Security is a major concern among most enterprises. We are also looking at investing in that area. Our USP to partners and customers is affordability, availability and reliability.

CRN: Most of your competition has acquired companies to foray into new segments and products. Is WD also looking at inorganic growth?
MF: Ours has been a gradual growth story from 12 percent market share to 38 percent market share in HDDs globally. We have done that organically. All companies except Samsung have made some or the other acquisition. Compared to that, ours is a measured sustained growth. And we want to maintain that.

CRN: What’s the latest on your pick and drop initiative—the WD Express Service?
SB: These are run by inTarvo, our third party outsourcing partner. We offer a toll free number and Web assistance. Customer can logon and create an RMA number, if the drive is in warranty. The courier service then picks it up and delivers a new drive between three to 15 days. We are working to reduce it to about four to five days. Meanwhile, the dead-on-arrival products go directly to the distributor.

CRN: WD has increased channel engagement over the last one year. What has changed?
SB: We will continue to work with our distributors namely Global Infotech, HCL DMS, Champion Computers, Jupiter, Redington and Neoteric (mainly for external hard drives). Our channel module will continue to be distributor-driven. What we are looking at is breadth billing. Our focus now is on B and C class cities, essentially upcountry markets. About 8,000 to 10,000 resellers across 500 cities in 28 states sell WD through our distribution network.
The distributors have divided the partners in the Select WD Platform resellers into Platinum, Gold and Silver. These are about 3,000 resellers and the number keeps growing as we speak. Besides handholding, the select partners get direct rewards from WD besides other benefits. There are target-based schemes for other resellers under the reseller scheme. A reseller has to garner a minimum of 100 points to be eligible for a reward.
The partners have contributed significantly to WD’s development in India, which now enjoys a double digit market share as compared to five percent market share about four years ago.

CRN: WD recently concluded road shows with the channel partners. What was the feedback?
MF: These were region-specific roadshows and the feedback is both valuable and educative. We recently introduced the BGB (blue, green and black) drives concept. The concept has worked excellently with the partners, who not only understand the concept but are also enabling customers to pick their choice. For example, a customer who wants an eco-friendly drive is offered the green drives (G drives) and customers seeking gaming drives are offered our hi-end black drives. The concept has made selling much simpler and easier.
SB: Although we cannot reveal numbers, suffice it to say that WD has been on the number one position over the last three quarters globally. We shipped 50.4 million drives Q2 FY2010-11, as against 194 million drives that shipped last year.

source : crn
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