So has Kingston’s success impacted on other, smaller, memory manufacturers? Bernd thinks so, “Of course there are companies out there who have a brand recognition that’s difficult to knock, but we have very strong reasons to believe that we are at least on par, if not in the fast lane. If I look at the competitive landscape, I notice the market exits and diversification strategies of several companies we probably would have been talking about one or two years ago. If I look at the financials of some competitors who have big plans, I wonder who will risk their money in these initial public offerings; we saw one company getting NASDAQ listed earlier this year and losing 50% of their market capitalisation since then. That’s amazingly poor in a year that will set new records for Kingston Technology’s performance”.
The KitGuru audience is not only tech savvy, you guys are also value conscious. No area sees the clash between performance and value quite as clearly as SSD.
We asked Bernd how sales for SSD products are going for Kingston now and whether he thinks there will be increased focus on this area for 2011. Bernd thinks this is the most natural market for Kingston to compete strongly in, “Kingston Technology’s industry-leading expertise is the dividend of a 20 years focus on the performance upgrade business. It is a heritage of experience, expertise and support that our customers can count on. This foundation has given us the insight to develop a clear and ambitious roadmap demonstrating long term commitment and investment — ensuring that SSD technology is the cornerstone of the computing platform, now and in the future. We are committed to bringing the latest flash technologies to the market. This year we have seen that the technology has stepped out of its geek corner and where sales have gained momentum. That’s pretty amazing, considering the premium they demand in a simple dollar per GB comparison to HDDs. We believe the demand will continue to increase and 2011/12 will probably see a mass market adoption for which we are prepared as we have already successfully taken them into mass-retailer in Europe. The big decider could well be the desktop or notebook kit. These kits contain everything a user needs to install and start using their Kingston V Series SSDNow. For the V Series, price will also play an important part, although the ability for a user to easily install and use the SSD to gain a performance improvement for their system is likely to be the biggest reason”.
Not shy of asking the tough questions, KitGuru had serious questions about Kingston’s SSD performance. Innovation is great for small companies and horrible for the biggest players who need to manage a diverse global channel. SSD drives like the Crucial C300 incorporate the magical Marvell 88SS9174 BJP2 controller, which is simply stunning on a SATA 600 interface.
We asked Bernd how Kingston would tackle such a fast moving market place, he replied “There are some products available which deliver very impressive performance numbers. Understandably, they gain a lot of media attention. Our engineers might also find this really exciting. But without a mass market of motherboards which support the SATA 600 interface why push a performance monster which won’t be able to live up to its potential in a SATA 2 dominated world. Wouldn’t you rather try to meet the needs of the vast majority of customers at a much more attractive price point? With the Kingston SSDNow range we are in a great position to offer users the best value and most effective upgrade option. Echoing what you said above, I recently read a review of one of our entry level drives which started out by saying ‘…these benchmarks look bad…’ and continued ‘…but it’s basically irrelevant to workstation use’ and concluded ‘…this product is perfect for the consumer and professional market it was intended for.’ Great if you can sell a few super-engineered drives to people who have deep pockets, but what about the needs of all those IT managers and consumers who are looking for help to extend the lifecycle of their existing hardware in times of tight budgets? SSD offers Kingston’s customers compelling performance, endurance and ROI benefits. It is at the tipping point, where wider adoption is driving rapid cost reductions. Older HDD technology has offered advantages in price per GB, but this is changing. SSD cost per GB is falling by around 50% per year, and by the end of 2010 a 128GB SSD drive will be available for around $185. Kingston Technology is continually investing in matching the best controllers with the best NAND memory to create faster and more efficient drives. Capacities are likely to increase and we could see additional form factors and features appearing such as 1.8” drives and encrypted drives, that will meet the needs of the mass market, be it consumer or corporate. SSD complements a changing computing environment, where performance, not storage capacity, is paramount”.