Boom! Seagate just responded to Western Digital’s acquisitions of Hitachi’s Global Storage Technologies subsidiary by acquiring LaCie. The â‚¬49 million transaction solidifies Seagate’s presence in the retail space, especially on the Apple side of things. In this way, Seagate will use LaCie to offset Western Digital’s G-Tech offerings.
To me, this acquisition is all about the Apple Store. Apple’s ridiculously successful retail channel is famously difficult to enter, but the rewards must be great. Apple buyers are willing to spend more for elegant design, high-performance, and advanced features like Thunderbolt connectivity. These products must have solid margins, especially compared to the cutthroat basic storage products at Best Buy, Walmart, or Staples.
Currently, the Apple Store mainly features two storage brands: G-Tech and LaCie. Sure, there are a few Western Digital and Seagate products on the shelves as well. But the highlight of the “back tables” at every Apple Store are the sleek storage devices from G-Tech and LaCie. Considering that Western Digital acquired G-Tech along with HGST, this left an obvious target for Seagate!
Then there is the question of Thunderbolt. Apple chose just to companies to premiere their high-performance storage interconnect: Promise and LaCie. The former provided larger RAID systems for video production and such, while the latter specialized in desktop/portable storage products. LaCie’s Little Big Disk and 2big drives appear to be hot sellers among the Apple enthusiasts I know.
You should also read, Seagate Versus Western Digital: The Hard Disk Drive Battle Lines Are Drawn
With the acquisition of LaCie, Seagate solidifies their access to a desirable, high-margin market and arguably one-ups Western Digital’s G-Tech brand. Combine this with a relatively modest acquisition price, and Seagate has a winner of a deal on their hands.