Western Digital moves into router market

Western Digital, known for its external hard drives, takes a step into networking with the launch of its My Net routers

Western Digital (WD) today announced it was bringing a range of routers to the market, signalling a new direction for the company best known for its storage.

The product line named My Net is WD’s first foray into the networking world, having focused mainly on external hard drives for the home, as well as its ongoing rivalry with storage giant Seagate.

Now it will launch three straight router devices, one router with integrated storage and an eight-port gigabit switch, in an attempt to make its mark.

“With so many people within the home simultaneously watching movies, playing games and browsing the web via their iPad, iPhone, Xbox and other devices, the network demands placed on today’s connected home has grown exponentially,” said Jim Welsh, executive vice-president for WD's branded products and consumer electronics groups.

“Our successes in creating connected home solutions with our WD TV media players and personal cloud products have given us valuable insights into the network-overload problems of home wireless users, and entering the wireless home networking market offers WD an exciting opportunity to strengthen our… offerings.”

The routers feature technology called FasTrack, which claims to identify any entertainment technology and accelerate it to Wi-Fi-connected devices for consumption. Not only is that helpful for those in the house wanting to get straight to their films and music, but it also frees space for anyone working from home who has very different needs for their business internet connection.

WD kept very quiet about its future plans in the networking area when asked by Computer Weekly, perhaps wanting to test the waters with the first range before making any further commitments.

However, current trends in both networking and storage markets, plus pressure from competition, seem to leave WD with no other option than to follow this route.

“In consumer storage, the USB back-up drive is evolving in to network attached storage (NAS) as the ability to share stored media becomes a key consumer value,” said Eric Hanselman, research director for networking at The 451 Group, when explaining the trends to Computer Weekly. 

“Online and cloud-based storage is making inroads into the consumer psyche. People are becoming more comfortable with the idea of remote storage and starting to look to it as a primary storage choice, rather than the back-up it has been. The link between consumers and remote storage is the network," he added.

“Combining competitive pressures and a consumer shift to remote storage creates a need for WD to retain a presence in consumer IT that logically pushes it to networking products,” said Hanselman. “This is a good move for WD, as it allows it to cover a broader range of consumer IT needs with a brand that is already well established.” 

The routers and switch go on sale today, starting at $79.99 and $69.99 respectively. However, the router and storage combination – called the My Net N900 Central – won’t go on sale until later this year.

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