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PC Hard Drive Sales Could Nearly Halve This Year

(Image credit: Daniel Kranson / Shutterstock)

We can't think of anyone who'd rather have a hard drive in their system than a solid state drive in 2019. It turns out that many PC manufacturers have realized this, with Nidec predicting that PC hard drive sales would drop nearly 50 percent this year as companies embrace SSDs in their products.

Tom's Hardware (step) sister site AnandTech spotted Nidec's prediction in the company's most recent earnings report. The company makes spindle motors used by HDDs, and with its claim that its products can be found in roughly 85% of hard drives, it's in a pretty good position to predict where the storage market could be heading. So, its claim that PC HDD sales will drop 48% over the course of 2019 is worth paying attention to.

Note that the company doesn't think all HDD sales will fall by half over the next year. Nidec is specifically referring to hard drives used as internal storage--sales of HDDs used in data centers or for external storage are expected to remain stable. That makes sense. Data centers are expected to store massive amounts of information, and most people don't expect their external storage to be as fast as their internal drives, so HDDs suit those markets.

But dwindling costs of SSDs combined with rising capacities reduce the appeal of HDDs as primary storage. Manufacturers can now improve their products in noticeable ways--even the least technically inclined can usually feel the difference between an SSD and HDD--without having to increase prices dramatically. That's made SSDs more popular than ever in pre-built desktop systems and, more important, broad swaths of the notebook market.

Nidec's prediction lines up with a Trendfocus report from earlier this year which indicated that desktop HDD shipments fell by 4 million, laptop HDD shipments fell by 6 million, and enterprise HDD shipments rose by 1 million in the first quarter of 2019. Nidec offered different numbers--it said it expects sales of PC hard drives to fall from 124 million units to 65 million units this year--but either way, PC hard drive sales are expected to fall.

The manufacturer expects to survive this decline by shifting its focus away from HDDs and towards automobiles and home appliances. Other companies will either have to rely on the external storage market, appeal to enterprise customers, or simply accept that every disk stops spinning eventually so they can refocus on other storage formats. That might not be great news for them, but it aligns with our common demand for ever-faster devices.