Large SSD makers want to smother small players by cutting prices

By on April 25, 2012, 4:30 PM

Although SSD prices have fallen rapidly over the last few years, they haven't fallen rapidly enough some might say. According DigiTimes' all-seeing, ever-elusive "industry sources in Taiwan," many large players concur with that sentiment -- albeit for reasons none too charitable. The market is currently flooded with drives from manufacturers both big and small. Leading SSD makers such as Kingston, OCZ, Intel and Crucial are competing with littler firms for your cash and, apparently, they don't like that.

According to insiders, the big fish have hatched a plan to fry their minnow-sized rivals. In a cutthroat game of limbo, the large manufacturers want to see how low the small ones can go. Or as DigiTimes puts it, "major SSD firms have initiated price reductions to reflect falling prices for NAND flash chips. The move is also aimed at triggering a price war in the market in an attempt to squeeze out smaller peers."

The sources didn't mention what companies are at risk of being eliminated, but noted that many of them are channel retailers which usually sell commodity memory products such as flash drives and memory cards. A cursory glance at internal SSD vendors listed on Newegg reveals many outfits which at least partially fit that description, including SanDisk, Verbatim, Patriot, PNY, Pretec, Wintec and Zalman.

Besides obvious competitive incentives for smothering their adversaries, the larger manufacturers are supposedly concerned about smaller ones introducing inferior products that "disrupt the development of the market." DigiTimes didn't elaborate on this point. The bigger players also hope to accelerate the transition from SATA 3Gb/s to SATA 6Gb/s by shrinking the price gap between the two segments.

User Comments: 15

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captainawesome captainawesome said:

That was a very arb article.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

"A cursory glance at internal SSD vendors listed on Newegg reveals many outfits which at least partially fit that description, including SanDisk, Verbatim, Patriot, PNY, Pretec, Wintec and Zalman."

Didn't realise most of those guys made SSDs...

Lower prices are always welcome, as long as it doesn't end up as some colluding oligopoly. But at the moment there's healthy competition between Intel, Crucial, OCZ, etc.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I've always assumed that most the manufacturers resold another manufacturers product. Like Wintec; they make displays. They would ask Sandisk to silkscreen the Wintek logo on a Sandisk part to be sold as a Wintek product. So, in essence, Sandisk really sets the prices. Right?

Scshadow said:

For years, they've concentrated on competitive performance with absolutely no concern on decreasing price. Its high time SSDs hit mainstream pricing. I'm just not prepared for these top players to snuff out the competition and then price hike each advancement in performance until we get back to where we are today. So yeah, I'm fine with lowering prices, just hope we don't pay for it later.

KG363 KG363 said:

You make it sound like they are getting together and deciding to lower prices to kill the little guys, which is illegal. It's just competition.

Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

I can elaborate on the last point, is is called "JMicron"

Try googling "JMicron Windows Install Problem"

Or why not "JMicron 602B"

Used by the likes of Transcend and others in their SSD products, so therefore you can google that too and feel enlightened

Guest said:

This is indeed an arb article. While it is indeed of interest that prices of SSD's are dropping the headline is a touch sensationalised. Lowering price points to compete in an open market is fairly standard practice regardless off what "someone" said over the water-cooler. Now if there was proof of collusion and price fixing, that would be a different matter...

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

I've always assumed that most the manufacturers resold another manufacturers product.

Sort of...

The SSD controllers are a select group*; LSI/SandForce (OCZ, Patriot, Team Group, SanDisk, Kingston Hyper-X, Intel 330/520, Corsair Force, A-Data S511/599), Marvell (Crucial, Intel 510, Plextor, Corsair Performance), Intel (Intel and some Kingston), Indilinx -owned by OCZ (OCZ, Corsair Nova/Extreme, A-Data S592), Phison (Imation, Patriot Torqx), Samsung (Samsung, Corsair Performance series, Super Talent), Toshiba (Kingston), and JMicron (Transcend, OCZ Core and A-Data S596).

NAND flash IC vendors are an even more select group; Samsung, Toshiba, STMicro, Hynix, Intel/Micron (who also own Numonyx) for the most part.

So basically it's a mix and match between controller and IC

* Not including the numerous enterprise vendors with proprietry controllers (Fusion-IO, Kove, Virident, Texas Memory, Violin, Tensilica etc.)

Guest said:

Right i tought after the Price fixing LCD panel maker did and got slapped with a pretty good fine companies would learn!! look at the price of LCD screens since then they dropped like lead in water! i sold electronic in a store for 7 years and never saw a huge drop until they got pinned fox fixing!

I mean SSD have been price fixed from day one and now the major companies are complotting price fixing to kill the small fish ....

MilwaukeeMike said:

This is the normal way of things. Too many players in a market like this doesn't work. They can't all survive. Look at some big examples.... cars in America. Many companies eventually were whittled down to the big 4. It's happening now in the Airline industry. Companies are merging (Midwest and Frontier) and some are folding (TWA is gone, United went bankrupt). Same thing with the cell carrier market. Small ones merge or fold.

There's only a limited market and many players means no one can take advatage of economies of scale. This isn't an SSD thing... it happens all the time.

example1013 said:

Honestly it wouldn't even matter if it were collusion. Short of an outright monopoly, having the largest companies work together to fix prices and eliminate competitors will be better for business no matter how big a fine they were to get hit with, because fining them doesn't unbankrupt those smaller companies who got pushed out.

Microsoft sets a good example here. The company has been convicted multiple times of anti-trust and anti-competitive practices, and has been hit with pretty big fines. It doesn't matter, though, because no fine is going to make up for the fact that Microsoft drove its competitors out of business.

Guest said:

Greed is the way of the big companies. Is this a surprise?

TJGeezer said:

Huh. Been too long since I followed this tech - why did I think Sandisk was in there with basic patents and such?

As for this being an arb article, if that means arbitrage, captainawesome has taught me many things I didn't know but this time... I don't get it. No company makes all its own components, not even Intel, so arbitrage in at least a loose sense is basic to any supply chain. I'm probably misunderstanding something here.

This just looks like pricing competition with a dash of cutthroat strategy to me, unless the report means to imply actual collusion on price-fixing. Any big corporation is capable of Microsoft-style predatory practices to squelch competition but they don't all flout the law to do it. Or so I hope, anyway.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Huh. Been too long since I followed this tech - why did I think Sandisk was in there with basic patents and such?

Well, your assumption is actually correct, [link] - they just have a lot more competition than they used to.

Guest said:

I keep asking my tech friends to remind me why I need an SSD and why it costs so damn much to get one. All he, (and others), have been able to come up with is, "Well, it makes your computer turn on a whole lot faster!" OK, I say, I reboot about once every 2 weeks with Win7. So I can spend upwards of $300 for an SSD so that I can save an aggregate of about 4 minutes over the course of that 2 weeks? Wow, that must be the sound of progress! Although it may only be 180 GB of storage. Doh!

I'm still pissed off about the bogus HDD fiasco that still has not resolved itself. Yes, the floods were tragic but so was $150 for a 320 Gig HDD, some of which were refurbished! That should teach these cheapskate manufacturers not to go to a 3rd world country to try and squeeze a few more bucks of profits.

So I will continue to watch the price drops and when a 120 Gig SSD hits the $29.95 price point I'm all in!

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