Western Digital: Enabling the Power of Data

The growth in cloud computing applications, connected mobile devices and Internet products is driving the rapid increase in the volume of digital content to be stored, processed and accessed. This has resulted in the increased availability of different types of storage device systems. To meet this surge in demand, the data storage industry is incorporating tiered architectures with HDDs, SSDs and other flash-based storage devices. Data storage devices and solutions are generally made using rotating magnetic or flash-based technologies that provide reliability, high-performance, more storage capacity and data retention capabilities.

Western Digital (WD) is one of the largest providers of data storage devices and solutions and operates three primary businesses – Data Centre Devices and Solutions, Client Devices, and Client Solutions. The company recently decided to exit the Storage Systems business and sold its IntelliFlash data centre systems portfolio to DDN, a big data storage supplier.

The decision comes as a part of the company’s strategy to boost its digital storage and memory business. WD is focusing on building its enterprise storage device portfolio due to the growing demand for high capacity drives in data centres, artificial intelligence and big data.. The company recently acquired Kazan Networks, a manufacturer of adapter- and ASIC-level integration products, to expand its data infrastructure portfolio.

In this report, we take a closer look at the company’s patent assets and technology portfolio.

General Trends

Figure 1: Published Applications – Growth [Click on image to enlarge]

Western Digital owns a portfolio of around 20,000 active patents and applications. Figure 1 shows a steady upward trend in the year-wise number of published applications from 2007 onwards. The growth declines in 2017 but surges again in 2018.


Figure 2: Key Geographies [Click on image to enlarge]

The home jurisdiction of US is the favoured filing destination for Western Digital accounting for more than half of its published applications. The other significant jurisdictions where Western Digital has sought patent coverage include China, Japan and the European Patent Office.







Technology Trends

An IndustryArc report states that the global data storage market was worth $40 million in 2018 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14% to 18% during the forecast period of 2019 to 2025.  The growing investments in information technology infrastructure to address the increasing need for storage space is fuelling this market growth.

The data storage market includes random access memory (RAM) and read only memory, hard disks and magnetic tapes, and cloud or networked storage. Western Digital offers a wide range of data storage solutions and technologies such as HDDs and SSDs for computing devices, security surveillance systems, set top boxes, flash-based embedded storage products for mobile phones, tablets, notebook PCs and other devices – as well asautomotive, IoT, industrial and connected home applications. Its Data Centre Devices and Solutions consist of high-capacity enterprise HDDs and high-performance enterprise SSDs, data centre software and system solutions.

Figure 3: Evolution of Sub-technologies [Click on image to enlarge]

As a part of its data storage and data management product portfolio revamp, Western Digital has been focusing on enhancing its enterprise storage devices and the portfolio for surveillance with new storage and analytics options. As seen in Figure 3, digital interface arrangements, testing and repairing memories, reading and writing of data to a memory are some of the growing technology areas in Western Digital’s patent portfolio.

Using Relecura’s proprietary patent value metric, we derived an average Relecura Star rating of 2.57 out of 5 for Western Digital’s portfolio. The Relecura Star rating ranks each patent on a scale of five. It is a proprietary composite metric incorporating multiple criteria. The metric combines the different technology, business, and litigation related factors. Generally, a patent that scores three or more out of five in terms of the Star Rating is deemed as a “high value” patent.

We take a closer look at the high value patents within the portfolio. For this purpose, we refined the portfolio by limiting the Relecura Star rating to 3.0 and above. Western Digital’s high-quality patents cover technology areas such as EPROM, magnetic record carriers, accessing, addressing or allocating within memory systems.

Western Digital’s direct competitors include Seagate, NetApp, Kingston, Toshiba and Samsung. WD faces stiff competition from Seagate for Magnetic record carriers, from Samsung for EPROM, and from Toshiba for auxiliary circuit related technologies. Our report includes a comprehensive comparison of Western Digital’s patent portfolio with that of its competitors across several different technology categories. Read the report to get detailed insights into all of Western Digital’s technology assets and take a closer look at some specific facets of its portfolio.

Get the Patent Portfolio Report.

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