The Q1 results are in for the hard disk drive (HDD) market, and things aren't looking good. Last year, the industry already saw a big drop in demand, which sadly is a trend that the COVID-19 outbreak has made worse. Year-on-year results show a 13% drop in units shipped, with quarter-to-quarter results seeing as drastic as a 14% drop.
The analysis, reported by Storage Newsletter, comes from Trendfocus. Whereas last year the HDD market shipped a total of 77 million units in Q1, that number dropped to 67 million this year.
Much of the quarterly results boil down to seasonal declines, but COVID-19-caused production issues take some blame in the 2.5-inch mobile and 3.5-inch desktop consumer categories. Meanwhile, the nearline enterprise space saw a record level of shipments at 15.7 million units, and the performance enterprise space dropped 12% quarter-over-quarter, partially due to COVID-19.
Trendfocus also placed blame on upcoming gaming consoles. Typically around this time console makers would be stocking up on hard drives for their production runs, but the Xbox Series X and Playstation 5 are both set to house solid-state storage devices instead of hard drives.
Global Q1 HDD Shipments*
|Vendor||HDDs (millions)||Estimated Q/Q Growth||Estimated Y/Y Growth||Market Share|
|Seagate||27.9-28.7||-14.8% / -12.4%||-10.8% / -8.3%||42.0% – 42.1%|
|Toshiba||14-14.2||-14.1% / -12.8%||-24.2% / -23.1%||21.1% – 20.9%|
|WDC||24.6-25.2||-16.2% / -14.1%||-11.7% / -9.5%||37.0% – 37.0%|
|Total||66.5-68.1||-15.2 / -13.1%||-14.3% / -12.2%||100% – 100%|
*These are preliminary results that may change when Trendfocus publishes its quarterly update.
A few weeks ago there was news of an upcoming storage shortage in the HDD market as Malaysia and the Philippines got hit by the pandemic. Based on these results, however, we expect HDD prices to drop further as demand continues to plummet.
One has to wonder if the HDD market will ever fully recover. It only just got close to recovering from the Thailand floods in 2011, but now that SSDs are all the rage, a massive resurrection seems less likely.
Hard drives won't be going away entirely anytime soon or ever, for that matter. They're still a great way of storing large amounts of data reliably and cost-effectively. But there will likely come a day down the road when the general consumer has long forgotten about magnetic storage mediums.