Even as solid-state drives continue to grow in popularity, the storage market is still largely driven by sales of traditional hard disk drives -- and the two biggest players remain Seagate and Western Digital. According to a recent iSuppli report, Seagate barely retained its first-place ranking among hard drive manufacturers for the fourth quarter of 2009 with 49.9 million units shipped, just enough to stay ahead of Western Digital's 49.5 million.

Western Digital was unable to displace its longtime rival despite boosting shipments by 12% in the quarter and Seagate only managing an 8% sequential increase. Revenues for the latter rose to $3.03 billion in Q4 2009, up from $2.16 billion the previous quarter, while Western Digital raked in $2.57 billion in the same period.

In terms of market share this gave Seagate a 31% stake versus Western Digital's 30%. Hitachi Global Storage Technologies was a distant third, shipping 25.2 million units for 16% of the market, while Toshiba/Fujitsu and Samsung Electronics closed out the top five, with 13% and 9% of the hard disk drive market share, respectively.

According to a separate iSuppli forecast, overall hard drive shipments are expected to decrease slightly in the current quarter compared with the last, due to normal seasonal patterns. But the research firm said shipments should pick up shortly and revenue is set to recover to fourth quarter 2009 levels by the second quarter of 2010.