Quantum Corporation Essay Research Paper Overview

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Quantum Corporation Essay Research Paper


In the past two decades Quantum Corp.

of Milpitas California has become one of the leaders in the design

manufacturing and marketing of digital storage products including hard

disk drives and digital tapes. By following its own path and making decisions

criticized by the rest of the industry Quantum has managed not only

to survive in an industry that has destroyed lesser companies but to

thrive and be recognized as one of the industry’s quality leaders.

Quantum Corporation was founded in 1980 as a manufacturer of 8-inch disk

drives. Not long after its establishment it moved into also manufacturing

5 ?-inch drives. Its business was to provide OEM (original equipment manufacturers)

like Apple and IBM with the drives they needed to produce their computers.

By 1987 sales of 5 ?-inch and 8-inch disks were falling and Quantum

was losing business to competitors who were able to get new products to

market faster and in greater quantity. Although the HardCard an add-on

disk drive being produced by the Japanese company Matsushita-Kotobuki

Electronics Industries Ltd. (MKE) for Quantum was doing well Quantum

needed to move into the 3 ?- inch disk drive market or lose its customers

to the competition. Because of Quantum’s successful relationship

with MKE and its own lack of resources to start up or rework a manufacturing

facility for the new smaller drives Quantum entered into an agreement

with MKE which would allow Quantum to focus on design and marketing while

MKE produced the disk drives.

This wasn’t a very popular move with some other American manufacturing

firms. Quantum was accused of selling out to the Japanese and providing

them with valuable technological information. Many thought Quantum was

signing its own death warrant by giving up control of its manufacturing.

Some industry insiders felt Quantum should have followed the lead of other

disk drive manufacturers like Seagate and opened its own manufacturing

plants in the Far East rather than give up control of its manufacturing

to the Japanese.

At first it appeared that some of these criticisms might be accurate.

Quantum was late getting into the market and then couldn’t meet the

demand for its products. But Quantum persevered in its decision and eventually

the high quality of the products coming out of MKE swung the tide in Quantum’s

favor. By 1989 Quantum’s 3 ?-inch disk was gaining acceptance in

the industry. In late 1991 Quantum was listed as the best California

large business by California Business magazine following a three year

revenue increase of over 135 percent and a net income increase of over

265 percent.

Another major problem Quantum faced was its historical dependence on

only a few customers. For several years orders from Apple Computer constituted

80 percent of Quantum’s business. But when Quantum couldn’t

supply the quantity of 3 ?-inch disks Apple needed the computer company

began to look elsewhere. Once well back in the 3 ?-inch disk drive business

Quantum realized it couldn’t rely on just a few customers but needed

to expand its client list. It began developing new relationships with

major companies in the industry and soon its client list included companies

like AT&T Hewlett-Packard Intel Corp. NEXT Inc. Sun Microsystems

Inc. and Unisys Corp. as well as others in Europe and the Far East.

In late 1994 Quantum acquired most of Digital Equipment Corporation’s

storage business including its hard disk drive and tape drive manufacturing

plants in Colorado Massachusetts Malaysia and Indonesia. Quantum hoped

to use this $400 million dollar purchase to enhance its standing as a

major supplier of high-end disk drives (2 4 and 9 gigabyte drives) for

use in mainframes minicomputers and other large computer systems. But

after spending hundreds of millions of dollars Quantum realized the high-end

disk market was not making money. In 1995 Quantum made the painful decision

to close the Colorado plant and move the remainder of its disk drive manufacturing

to its plant in Malaysia. By early 1996 Quantum closed its disk drive

plants in California and Malaysia and transferred all of its disk drive

manufacturing to MKE.

But not all of Quantum’s acquisitions from DEC were unsuccessful.

In another former DEC plant in Colorado Quantum found it needed to expand

its blossoming tape drive business. Tape drives store data on magnetic

tape and are generally used for back-up storage or archiving of data off

of a computer network. Many large computer companies like Hewlett-Packard

Digital and Compaq used the drives in their computer systems. With the

massive amounts of data being generated every day companies across the

country and the world were clamoring for back-up storage tapes. Quantum

had found a new niche.

Not only was 1995 the year that Quantum began changing its business strategies

but the company also changed its executive line-up. With a new CEO Michael

Brown the company is changing the way it looks at the future. The company’s

emphasis will be on developing and selling disk drive and tape storage

units but will leave the disk drive manufacturing up to MKE. It will

also try to expand its customer base by going into the general consumer

market with drives designed to expand the capacities of desktop PCs. Industry

insiders predict that growth in the PC disk-drive market will compound

annually at 20 percent to 25 percent over the next five years eventually

even outstripping PC sales as people upgrade and add memory to existent


As part of its DEC acquisition Quantum received an 81 percent share

of Rocky Mountain Magnetics Inc. a joint venture with Storage Technology

Corporation in the development of magneto-resistive (MR) heads. By incorporating

MR head technology into its disk drives Quantum was able to increase

areal density (the number of data bits per square inch). This allowed

Quantum to increase drive performance and reduce the cost per megabyte

by putting more data under a single head. Quantum was the first independent

supplier to combine MR heads and Partial Response Maximum Likelihood (PRML)

technologies in a hard disk drive. Through their joint connection Quantum

also partnered with StorageTek to supply Quantum DLT 7000 tape drives

to the StorageTek TimberWolf family of automated robotic tape storage


In March 1997 Quantum and Exabyte Corporation announced the Exabyte

18D Exabyte’s first automated DLT library. The library uses Exabyte’s

robotics and Quantum’s DLT 4000 or DLT 7000 tape drives to provide

backup remote storage and automated archiving of digital tape cartridges.

After a few years making up for the heavy expenditures from the DEC acquisition

Quantum reported substantial income increases in the beginning of 1997.

Growth and increase in income was attributable to the success of Quantum’s

switch in emphasis from hard disk drives to back-up tape drives.

Quantum now manufactures and sells 5 ?-inch and 3 ?-inch hard disk drives

solid state disks and tape drives. Its customers include large domestic

and international OEMs like Apple Computer Compaq Digital Hewlett-Packard

and IBM and through commercial and industrial distributors to smaller

OEMs system integrators value-added resellers dealers and retailers

in more than 25 countries. Quantum provides products for use in minicomputers

disk arrays servers workstations and entry-level to high-end desktop

PCs. Quantum’s manufacturing partner MKE has plants in Japan Ireland

and Singapore for producing the high-volume products. Quantum produces

solid state disks DLT tape drives and mini-libraries at its facilities

in Colorado Springs Colorado Initial design and production of magnetic

disks MR heads DLT drives and mini-libraries also take place in Shrewsbury

Massachusetts and Louisville Colorado. The Penang Malaysia plant continues

to produce disk drives.


Bean Joanna "California-Based Quantum Computer

Storage Device Maker Posts Record Sales" Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business

News January 29 1997

Bean Joanna "California’s Quantum Corp. to

Stop Making Its Own Computer Disk Drives" Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business

News January 31 1996

Bean Joanna "Colorado Springs Colo.-Based Quantum

to Move to New Headquarters" Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News

November 8 1996

England Robert Stowe "What Could Have Been (Quantum

Corp.)" Financial World October 13 1992

Gomes Lee "Quantum Corp. Ends Manufacturing Will

Lay Off 2 250" Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News January 31 1996

Hostetler Michele "Taking quantum leap into high-tech"

The Business Journal December 11 1995

Krause Reinhardt "Quantum shifts all production

to MKE" Electronic News (1991) February 4 1996.

McCreadie John "Quantum rebuilds profits with the

help of a friend" Electronic Business October 16 1989

Rawson Bob "Quantum plays a winning hand in disk

drive game; booming sales prompt hiring drive" EDN April 4 1991

Scouras Ismini "Transition Mars Quantum 2Q"

Electronic Buyer News November 11 1996

Sprackland Teri "Quantum flies high in the race

for disk drive sales" Electronic Business July 23 1990

Stevens Tim "Multiplication by addition: hot companies

in hot markets capitalize on strategic acquisitions to ignite growth"

Industry Week July 1 1996

Walsh James "100 Best Large Companies" California

Business November-December 1991

"Exabyte and Quantum Announce the Exabyte 18D – the

First DLT ™ Library in Exabyte’s Family of Library Offerings"

PR Newswire March 18 1997

"Quantum buys DEC storage units" Electronic

News (1991) July 25 1994

Quantum Corp. web page at quantum