Hard drive shipments expected to reach record level in 2012

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It’s been a tough year for hard drive manufacturers following the devastating floods that crippled production factories in Thailand late last year. The resulting drive shortage was felt worldwide which led to a spike in prices for traditional spinning storage. A year later, however, the industry has fully recovered and is even expected to hit a record for total drives shipped in 2012.

Market research firm IHS iSuppli says hard drive shipments are expected to overcome a sluggish third quarter to reach 524 million in 2012, an increase of 4.3 percent over the 502.5 million units moved last year. Higher demand in the enterprise market as well as preparation for Windows 8 are cited as the two primary reasons for heightened shipments.

Hard drive shipments are expected to climb continually moving forward through at least 2016. iSuppli believes that by that time, shipments could hit 575.1 million units worldwide. It’s worth pointing out that the forecast only includes hard drives shipped to the PC compute segment. Drives used in automotive applications, DVR devices or as external storage weren't included.

It’s not all good news, however, as pricing is expected to remain elevated until sometime in 2014. As iSuppli pointed out earlier this year, manufacturers are being forced to charge more for hard drives for a number of reasons. Many had to relocate production to other regions while component costs increased as a direct result of the same flooding. It was estimated that manufacturers would have to spend around $1 billion to replace or repair damaged factories in Thailand.

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