Reports late in 2015 and early 2016 suggested that Toshiba was about to sell off their Hard Disk Drive manufacturing section, due to their lack of market share and the impact SSD’s have had on the sale of 2.5” drives within the mobile device market. Such a departure would have left Seagate and Western Digital as the only manufacturers of hard disk drives. Toshiba looked to be considering focussing on SSD technology within the storage market. They already own a big share of the flash memory manufacturing market in partnership with SanDisk.
Toshiba acquired the Fujitsu hard drive manufacturing section in 2009, entering into the 2.5” laptop drive market, which has seen fierce competition from the other HDD manufacturers, as well as the SSD industry, which are extremely well suited to laptops.
The situation appears to have changed following regulators in Japan and Europe taking a great interest in the sale of Hitachi’s disk department, HGST to Western Digital last year. This sale appeared to limit the choice of 3.5” drive manufacturers to only Seagate and WD. The regulators, in particular those in Europe have been particularly keen to avoid this happening and as a compromise it was recently announced that while Western Digital would keep the 2.5” drive manufacturing facilities acquired from Hitachi, they would be selling the 3.5” drive manufacturing equipment to Toshiba, ensuring that there would be three companies competing across both form factors of drive.
This should in theory keep the hard disk drive market more competitive, which should in turn benefit consumer. Toshiba currently has only a 17% share in the HDD market, which should increase if they do acquire the HGST drive manufacturing equipment for 3.5” drives. If the acquisition of SanDisk by Western Digital is given the go ahead, they will become partners in the SSD market.