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Seagate and Western Digital hard drives outdone by SSDs

The sun is starting to set on hard drives
Tue Feb 05 2013, 14:14
Hitachi GTS USC 10K 900 Hard Drive

HARD DRIVE MAKERS can expect to see revenues decline as demand for traditional disk drives falls, according to IHS Isuppli.

Hard drive manufacturers Seagate, Western Digital and Toshiba have carved up most of the market, lowering warranties and keeping prices high after the Thai floods in 2011 that shuttered several factories. Now IHS Isuppli claims that the good times have come to an end, with industry revenues expected to drop by 11.8 percent in 2013 and 2014 not expected to show signs of improvement.

While Seagate and Western Digital gouged consumers by keeping prices artificially high even after production recovered to pre-flood levels, solid-state disk (SSD) drive makers aggressively brought prices down. Intel has also been pushing SSDs as part of its ultrabook specification and with Windows 8 tablets using SSDs, the long term prospects for hard drive makers are not looking good.

Fang Zhang, analyst for storage systems at IHS Isuppli said, "The HDD industry will face myriad challenges in 2013. Shipments for desktop PCs will slip this year, while notebook sales are under pressure as consumers continue to favour smartphones and tablets. The declining price of SSDs also will allow them to take away some share from conventional HDDs. However, HDDs will continue to be the dominant form of storage this year, especially as demand for ultrabooks picks up and hard drives remain essential in business computing."

IHS Isuppli said Western Digital could overtake Seagate to become the market share leader by the end of 2013, and said that hard drives will see greater use in the enterprise market in cloud and big data use cases.

Toshiba's hard drive operations run alongside its NAND flash manufacturing line so a move to SSDs is not going to affect the firm as much as it will Seagate and Western Digital.

After enduring higher prices and shorter warranties over this past year, consumers will have little sympathy for the two major hard drive makers that control most of the storage market. µ


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