HDD Makers Need to Reprioritize to Stand Up to SSDs: IDC

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2011-06-09 Print this article Print

IDC projects that HDD industry revenue potentially can grow from $33.4 billion in 2010 to $48.2 billion in 2015, but some things have to change for that to happen.

Industry researcher IDC came out June 9 with a report that suggests the hard drive industry should re-evaluate its priorities if it's going to hang tough against the powerful onslaught of solid-state drives in consumer and enterprise markets.

IDC projects that HDD industry revenue potentially can grow from $33.4 billion in 2010 to $48.2 billion in 2015, but that some things will have to change for that to happen.

"The HDD industry needs to shift its R&D priorities, giving more attention to developing faster HDD performance for PC markets while simultaneously delivering HDD capacity advancements," John Rydning, IDC Research Director for Disk Storage Mechanisms, wrote in the report.

"At the same time, HDD vendors have an opportunity to transform into storage solution providers with a broad range of products that address the needs of both consumers and small businesses."

HDD makers certainly are not slacking off in R&D by any means; after all, HDDs remain the industry standard storage media and are expected to remain so for years to come. Industry leaders such as WD, Seagate and Samsung continue to spend millions of dollars in research and regularly turn out more capacious disks every few months.

In fact, Samsung's Spinpoint M8 for notebooks, which consists of two 500 gigabyte platters, was introduced June 9.

The report isn't as much a warning to the HDD industry as it is an advisory to vendors, as well as user IT managers, Wall Street analysts and industry media types.

"It [the report] is really communicating to people outside the industry who are writing off the HDD industry for dead, and I don't think that's the case at all," Rydning told eWEEK.

"They kind of look at the HDD industry as hapless victims, with a future that is completely out of their control as they become victims to iPad-type tech devices. No way that's true. There's still a very large supply chain that still exists; there are some really big opportunities that still exist for the drive industry, which still has a really solid future."

Rydning also wrote that hybrid combinations of spinning disks and SSDs may be the best long-term product for spinning disk makers.

Other key findings in the research include:

  • With or without industry consolidation, HDD average selling price (ASP) declines will slow near term as HDD technology advancements are slowing, making it more difficult for HDD vendors to reduce HDD bill of material costs.

  • Long term, the HDD industry has an opportunity to increase HDD ASPs with hybrid NAND and rotating disk storage devices aimed at the PC market.
  • The personal storage market continues to be one of the strongest growth segments for the HDD industry.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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