Seagate Technology has extended the warranties on internal PC and enterprise hard drives shipped through its distribution and retail channels to five years.
The move, which starts with immediate effect, boosts the firm's standard one-year and three-year warranties, and applies retrospectively to applicable hard drives shipped since 1 June.
Jeff Loebbaka, vice-president of global marketing at Seagate, said: "Seagate stands proudly behind its hard drives with the industry's best warranty.
"Success for our channel partners and customers is critical to Seagate's success. The new five-year warranty enables our channel partners to sell the best drives to customers and minimise the cost and time they spend on warranty-related issues."
By extending its own warranties, Seagate will force other manufacturers to consider a similar move, according to Tony Lock, chief analyst at Bloor Research. "They will have to respond by copying Seagate or beating them on price," he said.
Two years ago, Seagate followed other hard-drive makers, such as Maxtor and Western Digital, in reducing warranty lengths. Tight margins forced manufacturers to trim costs.
But as manufacturers increase their expertise in producing the drives, lengthened warranties is a low-cost way to differentiate, said Lock. "The quality of disk drives is going up, so offering an extended warranty will be a low-cost option for Seagate," he added.
But rivals claimed some distributors may shy away from offering such extensions.
A representative for Western Digital told CRN it is in discussions with its channel partners on whether to respond to Seagate's move.
"We already offer three-year and five-year guarantees on our high-end drives. We'll have to wait and see whether we extend that to low-end drives. Not every distributor would welcome having long warranties," he said.
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