The combination of Japanese earthquake and Thai floods led to a difficult year for hard drive manufacturers, and knock-on effects in the PC industry led to a 4.5% year-on-year fall in shipments. Now at long last the industry is reported to be back on track. IDC predicts the clean-up of manufacturing facilities willbe complete by Q2 2012, meaning output levels should reach prediluvian levels sometime in the second half of 2012. That means shipments should increase 7.7% year-on-year, meaning a compound growth rate for the 5-year 2011-2016 period of 9.6%.
All of which is great news for manufacturers and retailers, but what of the humble consumer? Hard drive-makers are expected to bump up prices to address the ‘excessive price erosion’ seen since 2009. Hard drive prices will still decline slowly, constantly giving users better price-per-gig rates, except prices seem set to fall gradually from their present high levels to pre-flood levels, meaning prices per gig have effectively been doubled.
Hard drive manufacturers say they need to generate extra revenues for research purposes, so they deliver faster, larger drives, and also hybrid drives that combine disk storage with faster flash memory, as seen in Seagate Momentus XT line of hard drives. IDC reckons HDD producers need to counter the explosion of flash storage solutions by persuading PC sellers that hybrid solutions represent better value.
The rising popularity of smartphones and tablets, which use exclusively flash storage is also hurting PC sales and by extension HDD shipments. Other developments causing hard drive makers problems is the rapid uptake of cloud storage, whether for business or personal use.
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