Every once in a while, a crop of stories pops up on the question of whether flash memory can make hard drives obsolete, or at least take a big bit out of its share of the data storage market. One of the most vocal opponents of this idea has been the CEO of hard drive maker Seagate, Bill Watkins, who, for rather obvious reasons, would like to convince people that the whole idea is hogwash. For some time, he's been repeating the line that as long as hard drives maintain a cost advantage over flash, the market for them will remain steady. What this means in practice is that devices with (relatively) small storage needs, like iPods, will increasingly use flash, while hard drives will still be used for things that require a lot of storage, like HD video, because at that level the cost of flash is prohibitive. Now once again, a number of analysts are chiming in on this issue, prognosticating on the the fate of the two technologies. While there seems to be some temporary price weakness in the hard drive market, it looks like the story pretty much remains the same, as both technologies have their role. In a recent interview, the Seagate CEO even spoke about how the two technologies could complement each other, such as hard drives with some flash built into them for faster data transfer. Although both technologies should stick around for awhile, this hybrid approach makes a lot of sense for a company like Seagate, and it's a sign that the company realizes its in the business of data storage, not just in the business of hard drives.
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