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A discussion with Khalid Wani on what puts WD on top of its game in India

The "solid" state of affairs

Data storage is an incessant need that can never be satiated. WD and SanDisk are two consumer brands from Western Digital that are at the top of this game and we speak to Khalid Wani, Director Sales, India, Western Digital.

What are the major behavioural shifts you are seeing in data consumption by consumers?

The access of data that is available to consumers is far more superior than what they had in the past and that becomes a big turning point in this behavioural shift because when the consumer realises that the primary mobile device is capable of capturing content at a much higher quality than was possible earlier, the need to create content increases. This in turn drives the need for more storage as consumers rarely feel comfortable deleting content from their primary device. Hence, even though smartphones are sold from 64GB all the way to 512GB, when we launched our 1TB microSD card in India, we were sold out, can you believe it! Content creation is also part of many people’s livelihoods with apps like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, TikTok which propagate data consumption and creation. Data is the new oil, as a wise man once said and I like to think of Western Digital as the maker of barrels to store that oil! Also, in the past couple of years, the awareness to back up your data has increased exponentially as people realise that creating content takes a long time but losing it is very sudden and retrieving it is a long and expensive process.

What is the biggest challenge for creators these days?

When you look at the devices that content is being created on these days, it’s primarily a toss up between mobile phones and DSLRs. They want to make sure they can transport that content online or offline, play with that content, edit it and have a seamless, faster access across all the segments they are creating. We look at every customer sub-segment of ours and what we can do to make their life easier. Things like faster external storage for prosumers and professionals is critical when you’re creating GBs and even TBs of content. Our SanDisk Extreme and Extreme Pro devices are created with a very fast interface. Filmmakers have a different challenge like transportation and making storage more rugged. Our G-Tech and G-Speed Shuttle line of products are dedicated to these kinds of use case scenarios where pre and post-production requirements are extreme. We believe in creating products for different types of users and that’s why Western Digital has the largest product portfolio at this time and it’s said that 50% of the global data passes through our devices at any point in time!

How will your products evolve in the face of cloud storage?

While cloud, as an infrastructure continues to grow and while it helps WD too since we provide storage to cloud service providers as well, I don’t see it getting any cheaper from the consumer perspective. We, in fact, have a product known as the MyCloud which a consumer can acquire physically and create his or her own personal cloud.  The size of the content is getting larger by the day due to better hardware and we have solutions even for the phones don’t provide for expandable storage. Products like the Dual Drive make use of your phone's lightning port or USB-C port to connect for expended storage and India has become our most popular market for it! Consumers also will always choose to keep private content on native devices and our Hybrid model with the MyCloud really works well in that regard and also gives you control to customise access to multiple users for media, photos, documents etc.

What are the work-in-progress innovations we can expect soon?

A lot of R&D for us happens here in India and we have close to 3000 engineers. The 1TB microSD card was actually conceived and developed in India! My Passport SSD is the newest product we have announced internationally and that is the one to come to India soon. Dual Drive and MicroSD will be spaces where you’ll see more new products but that’s all I can reveal at the moment!