The market for solid-state drives has grown rapidly over the past few years, and that trajectory appears set to continue. According to research firm IHS iSuppli, SSD shipments will reach 83 million units in 2013, more than doubling last year's total of 39 million units. By 2016, shipments are expected to hit 239 million units and make up roughly 40% of the storage market.
IHS iSuppli's numbers include both standalone and caching SSDs, but they don't account for hybrid drives with onboard flash memory. Hybrids like Seagate's Momentus XT employ relatively small amounts of flash as read-only caches, so they're quite a bit more limited than hybrid configurations that pair traditional hard drives with separate caching SSDs.
Research analyst Ryan Chien contends that "the fate of the SSD business is closely tied to the market for Ultrabooks and other ultrathin PCs that use cache drives." He backs up that asssertion by pointing out that 2012 SSD shipments actually fell short of expectations, despite growing by 124%. Poor ultrabook sales were the cause of the shortfall, Chien says.
While sold-state storage is indeed a key component of ultrabooks and other thin systems, I suspect the falling cost of NAND may have more of an impact on overall SSD adoption. As the IHS iSuppli press release points out, lower SSD prices attract not only consumers looking to upgrade their systems, but also PC makers speccing pre-built machines. SSD prices fell by about 38% over the course of 2012, and the shift to next-gen NAND should allow the steady decline to continue.