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Hard drive sales to see double-digit dive this year

Optical drives may disappear entirely

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Hard drive sales will take a nose drive in 2013, according to a report by the market analysts at IHS.

"Facing a relentless onslaught from tablets, smartphones and solid state drives (SSD), global hard disk drive (HDD) market revenue in 2013 will decline by about 12 percent this year," IHS reported in an email on Monday announcing its latest analysis.

"The HDD industry will face myriad challenges in 2013," wrote IHS storage-systems analyst Fang Zhang. "Shipments for desktop PCs will slip this year, while notebook sales are under pressure as consumers continue to favor smartphones and tablets."

In addition, said Zhang, as SSD prices continue to drop they'll take an increasing chunk of market share away from conventional hard drives, helping to drive down HDD revenues. IHS projects total HDD sales of $32.7bn in 2013, down from $37.1bn in 2012. Revenues are projected to shrink a bit further next year, down to $32.0bn.

Those projections, of course, in no way, shape, or form mean that HDDs are going away anytime soon. As IHS notes, spinning storage still has a substantial advantage over SDDs not only in terms of cost-per-gigabyte, but also in per-unit capacity. As an example, they cite the five-plus-terabyte helium-filled HDD that Western Digital is expected to launch soon.

"While Seagate had a 50 percent share of the enterprise market last year," IHS writes, "the introduction by Western Digital of its new helium technology could catapult the manufacturer to the top at the end of 2013, dethroning Seagate in the process."

IHS also points out that optical-drive manufacturers are facing their own challenges, what with laptop makers eschewing them in order to create slim Ultrabooks – even desktop PCs such as Apple's anorexic iMac line are saying farewell – and with consumers turning more to video streaming over DVDs and Blu-ray discs.

"Optical drives could eventually be abandoned by PC makers altogether," IHS writes. ®

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