Updated from 8 a.m. EDT

The tug of love for

Data Domain

( DDUP) is continuing, with rival suitors

EMC

(EMC)

and

NetApp

(NTAP) - Get Report

still locked in a

battle

to win hearts and minds. Money, however, could prove the deciding factor in who wins the

storage specialist

.

NetApp recently

claimed victory

in the race to acquire Data Domain, clinching a $30-per-share cash-and-stock deal with the Data Domain board, but try telling that to

EMC

. The storage giant is still pushing its own $30

all-cash

bid, targeting stockholders and even Data Domain's own staff in an attempt to derail the deal.

EMC CEO Joe Tucci, for example, recently launched a

charm offensive

aimed at Data Domain employees, part of a broader campaign to win over shareholders.

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With neither EMC nor NetApp showing any sign of letting go, it seems inevitable that Data Domain's $1.9 billion price tag will grow.

Data Domain's board urged the company's shareholders to reject EMC's offer Monday and vote in favor of the merger with NetApp, although there is growing speculation that cash-rich EMC may simply up the ante.

"In our view, the final 'nail in the coffin' will likely be EMC raising its all-cash bid to $33 to $35

per share in the near-term," wrote Brian Marshall, an analyst at Broadpoint AmTech, in a note released Tuesday. "At this level, we believe NetApp will not be able to continue and will have to settle for the $57 million break-up fee."

There has been a lot of talk about how the "laid back" culture of Data Domain could be at odds with that of storage behemoth EMC, although money could be the decisive factor in this deal.

"We continue to believe it will be difficult for NetApp to win this battle," added Marshall. "EMC has significantly more resources ($7.3 billion in cash) and in our opinion, this deal is defensive in nature for EMC (i.e. it wants to get it done)."

Another factor in the Data Domain saga could be the U.S. government. The

Federal Trade Commission

is investigating the bids to see whether they fall foul of antitrust regulations, according to

Reuters

Undeterred by the battle raging over his company's future, Data Domain CEO Frank Slootman threw his weight firmly behind NetApp's bid Monday.

"We are pleased with the revised terms of NetApp's acquisition offer and feel it will provide great value to our shareholders and customers," he said, in a statement.

Data Domain explained that failure to reject EMC's offer would give NetApp the opportunity to terminate the merger agreement, and said there were no assurances that EMC would then step into the breach.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Data Domain is regarded as a trailblazer in data de-duplication technology, which ensures that the same pieces of information are not stored. By eliminating duplicate data, Data Domain and its rival

Commvault

(CVLT) - Get Report

are pushing their hardware and software as a way for companies to reduce their storage footprint.

Shares of Data Domain, NetApp, and EMC, all retreated with the broader tech market Tuesday. Data Domain's stock closed down 34 cents, or 1.03%, at $32.53, and shares of NetApp fell 54 cents, or 2.72%, to $19.28. EMC's stock also fell, closing down 36 cents, or 2.77%, at $12.62, as the Nasdaq dipped 1.11%.