Solid-state drive shipments are set to more than double in 2013 bolstered by a new generation of lower-cost and more appealing ultrabooks, according to an IHS iSuppli report. The market research firm estimates worldwide shipments will rise to 83 million units this year, up from 39 million in 2012, and continue the upward trend to reach 239 million units in 2016 -- or about 40% of the size of the hard disk drive market.
Analyst Ryan Chien argues that the flash-based storage business is closely tied to the market for ultrabooks and other ultra-thin computers, pointing out that even though SSD shipments grew by 124% in 2012 they still fell below expectations and poor ultrabook sales were the cause of that shortfall. He specifically blames poor marketing, high prices and a lack of appealing features, but looking forward Chien expects the ultrabook market to pick up more steam helped by Intel’s upcoming Haswell processors and Windows 8.
The other driver of SSD shipment growth is of course the fall in NAND flash memory pricing. This attracts both consumers looking to upgrade their systems and PC makers including SSD drives as default or options in pre-built machines. Although SSDs are still far from catching up with HDDs in cost per gigabyte, average prices fell by around 38% in 2012, with high and mid range options dipping below the $1 per GB mark.
IHS iSuppli’s shipment and revenue estimates include enterprise and consumer class SSDs as well as cache SSDs found in storage arrays, but not hybrid hard drives with onboard flash memory.