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OCZ hopes a stable supply of NANDs and a fresh start with Toshiba will make it competitive once again.


A very tumultuous period in OCZ’s history came to a close in November when the company began the process of being acquired by Toshiba’s storage solutions division. A saga that involved a CEO with a criminal record exiled to Panama, SEC filings never materializing and a botched acquisition deal with Seagate concluded when OCZ was scooped up for pennies on the dollar by the Japanese technology giant as its stock collapsed on the NASDAQ.

It’s impossible to narrow down OCZ’s collapse to one single factor: It was partially the cult of Ryan Petersen, a fragile NAND supply and the tyranny of the shareholder that brought the company to its knees.

But how does the company recover from this? By placing a big bet on customers associating them with Toshiba and not their former selves as Tobias Brinkmann, OCZ’s Vice President Global Marketing explains.

“Not really a lot has changed internally at OCZ, the company structure has changed,” he said during an interview with VR-Zone, explaining that OCZ operates as a discrete entity from Toshiba.

“If we look at our current setup with Toshiba, that will bring great confidence with consumers. We’ll be making the best quality products we’ve done in our company’s history.”

As Toshiba is a major manufacturer of NAND flash memory, OCZ, a formerly fabless company, will no longer have to negotiate with a third party for its supplies. For OCZ, as Brinkmann explains, having a NAND supply in-house means the company will now have its “fourth pillar”, direct access to NAND, that in addition to the other three pillars of proprietary controllers, firmware and application software, will allow it to mature in the storage market.

“Unless you have direct access to NAND you are not competitive,” he said. “With Toshiba it’s different.”

Brinkmann also said that a stable supply of NAND from Toshiba isn’t the biggest “game changer”. The real competitive edge, according to Brinkmann, comes from “much more insight and access to the NAND technology.”

While SSD’s are growing at a blistering rate — SSD shipments were up 82 percent to 57.0 million units — some think that hard disk manufacturers might be trying for a renaissance on a price-competitive nature by cranking up the RPMs to give the mechanical drives a speed bump. Not so, says Brinkmann.

“High RPM HDDS are not a threat to the SSD market, even at the low end,” he said. “High RPM HDDs are not a threat. HDDs and SSDs are going to co-exist for a long period of time especially since HDDs have a place in cold storage and in the cloud.”

Time will tell if OCZ can completely win back the trust of consumers. It was once known for excellent, genre-defining SSDs and still has many products in the pipeline, like the RevoDrive based on 19nm Toshiba NAND, that are sure to be winners. Enthusiast consumers are a fickle bunch, and the complete dissociation from its former self OCZ is pushing for should give the company a fresh start.

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