June 22, 2010
We have long talked about SSDs here at BSN* and their overall improvements that they have delivered to users in the world of storage technologies. Not only have SSDs enabled users to reduce their heat creation and power consumption but simultaneously improve their boot times and load times among other things. Not only that, but SSDs have enabled users to improve the speed of which they work and improve their workflow which can be invaluable to many. As such, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) has been one of the driving forces in SSD technologies and has been pushing as hard as they can in order to improve SSD adoption across the various niches of the market. They have already done everything within their power to drive down the costs of their SSDs as they now manufacture not only the important SSD controllers but also have a hand in the manufacturing of the NAND flash used in SSDs. Because of this, Intel has been able to drive down the costs of SSD ownership to, in some cases, below $100 with a mail-in rebate.
The only missing piece of the puzzle in Intel's plan was the lack of marketing and accessibility. Many people who read BSN* may argue that SSDs are already readily available in retail places like Fry's Electronics and Microcenter but many of those places lack the exposure to consumers that a place like Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) can simply based on size. As such, Intel has decided to team up with Best Buy to offer their less expensive SSDs to customers in more than 800 stores nationwide. We have reviewed Intel-based SSDs in the past, and we expect customers to be purely wowed by the performance if they've never been exposed to SSDs before. As such, we'd expect Intel to do their familiar booth-style displays that inform the customers about their technology and a demo showing how it can be used. We have seen these kinds of displays time and time again in places like Fry's. Intel and Best Buy's plans for SSDs seem pretty clear cut, they want consumers to not only look for SSDs in their OEM built computers, but they also want them to upgrade their old computers as well, "When you upgrade to an Intel Solid-State Drive, you see a dramatic improvement in your computing experience," said Pete Hazen, director of marketing for Intel NAND Solutions Group. "We've already shipped more than a million SSDs and consumers are realizing that SSDs aren't just an alternate means of storage, but a performance enhancement that brings a new level of responsiveness to their computer. With Best Buy selling Intel SSDs, we hope more people will begin to experience the dramatic effect of solid-state drive computing."
Judging by the fact that Intel will be releasing drives ranging from $129.99 to $229.99 we'd expect to see Intel using their 80GB Mainstream SSD and their 40GB Value SSD as both of those drives usually go on sale online for around those prices. Granted, since Best Buy will be selling these SSDs they will also be likely to be servicing them as well and we hope that Best Buy modifies their manuals for Geek Squad to reflect the fact that they shouldn't recommend defragmentation on Intel SSDs or that their techs perform a defragmentation either. So, we would hope that Intel also invest heavily in training Best Buy employees in the do's and don'ts of SSDs. Knowing Intel and their constant training sessions that they hold at Best Buy locations, this should be nothing new.
"We think solid-state drives will become increasingly popular as people realize how much faster they can boot up and run their favorite software or work-intensive applications," said Jason Bonfig, vice president of Computing at Best Buy. "Our customers are looking for the latest and greatest in technology and entertainment experiences. Now they can purchase an Intel SSD and add it to a new or existing computer for a makeover that will improve their computing or gaming experience." That statement by Jason Bonfig of Best Buy confirms that Intel and Best Buy are doing everything within their power to market these SSDs and push them to all sorts of consumers. Hopefully they do not sell 40GB value SSDs as anything other than boot drives, as that could be catastrophic to the reputation of SSDs with consumers. If anything, there should be a very focused effort to pound away at the 40GB as a 2 drive solution with an HDD for storage while the 80GB mainstream being the more rounded single drive gaming and heavy workload drive. Even so, the consumers need to be educated on the benefits and pitfalls of SSDs and to understand that just because they're smaller capacity that they are not worse. Hopefully Intel and Best Buy put their best feet forward because this move could open the door for further SSD adoption and possibly other manufacturers' offerings as well.
You can read from Anshel Sag at Bright Side of News* here.
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