According to the latest projection from research firm IHS iSuppli, the hard drive market will contract by 11.8% this year. HDD revenues topped $37.1 billion last year, but they're expected to fall to $32.7 billion in 2013 and hold mostly steady at $32 billion in 2014. Falling SSD prices are blamed for the decline, as are slowing desktop and notebook sales. PCs are increasingly losing ground to tablets and smartphones—devices that use solid-state storage exclusively.
Mobile devices have relatively little internal storage, so they end up pulling a lot of data from the cloud. No wonder IHS iSuppli identifies the enterprise storage market as one with potential for "major growth." SSDs may offer the best performance, but there's no beating mechanical drives when storage density and total capacity are the driving concerns. Western Digital subsidiary HGST has gone so far as to pump drives full of helium to pack in even more gigabytes. A helium-filled 5TB enterprise drive is scheduled to start qualification this year.
Enterprise-class drives have a habit of trickling down to the desktop as flagship products, and I hope we'll see 5TB models reach the 3.5" SATA arena. Much of the demand for ultra-high-capacity consumer storage seems likely to be focused on external solutions like home NAS devices, though.
Even if we don't get a capacity bump above the current 4TB ceiling, we can apparently look forward to lower prices. IHS iSuppli predicts that the average selling price for hard drives will decrease by 7% this year. Most desktop drives are still priced higher than they were before Thailands's 2011 flooding, so further discounts would certainly be welcomed.
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