Compact Tape Market Shifts to Super Drives

A new study published by Freeman Reports projects major shifts in the compact tape marke. As the trend toward network storage accelerates, SAN and NAS implementations of tape are resulting in the centralization of traditional tape functions. In the future, tape’s new role — providing cost-effective mass storage in a shared environment — will be satisfied by the super drives, including Super DLT, LTO Ultrium and new generations of 8-millimeter products. Desktop requirements will continue to weaken. By 2006, the super drive technologies will comprise 84 percent of unit shipments and 96 percent of compact tape revenue.

The report shows that unit shipments of compact tape drives decreased by 31 percent in 2000. This dramatic decline was limited to the desktop and entry-level server segments, served primarily by QIC minicartridge drives and DAT drives. Combined demand for QIC and DAT drives tallied 2.3 million devices in 2000, down from 3.7 million in 1999, which was a banner year.

According to the report, the decline in unit shipments will continue through 2006 at an effective compound rate of 5 percent. Industry revenue for all classes of compact tape drives also declined, but at a slower pace, falling from $2.60 billion at OEM levels in 1999 to $2.12 billion in 2000. Revenue was down in every category except 8-millimeter and Ultrium. Super DLT drives began shipping at the end of 2000 and did not make a significant contribution to total DLT revenue. Industry revenue will rise to $2.24 billion in 2001 with increases in 8-millimeter, DLT and Ultrium.

The report also states that despite a decline in revenue from its DLT tape drives in 2000, Quantum continued to be the overall compact tape market leader, maintaining a revenue share of 38 percent — down from 40 percent the previous year. Hewlett-Packard — having shifted their market emphasis from the waning low-end minicartridge segment to DAT — retained No. 2 ranking in 2000 with an 18 percent share, down 4 percent from the previous year. Sony gained 4 percent points to grab a 16 percent share and third place in 2000 on strong 8-millimeter drive sales. Seagate maintained their 11 percent share despite slightly declining DAT and minicartridge drive sales to hold onto fourth place. Exabyte and Tandberg swapped fifth and sixth places — as they did the prior year — by trading 2 percent points between them, with Exabyte now in fifth. IBM increased their share by 2 percent on the strength of Ultrium drive sales.

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