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Industry analyst IHS iSuppli expects revenue generated by sales of mechanical hard drives to slip by 11.8 percent during 2013. HDD sales in 2012 grossed a healthy $37.1 billion during 2012, but a speculative 11.8 percent drop could whittle that figure to roughly $32.6 billion. Revenue is expected to remain flat during 2014.
The firm attributes stronger SSD sales and HDD "price erosion" for this year's weaker revenue projections. However, iSuppli recognizes mechanical hard drives will remain dominant for some time though, as they continue to deliver the highest possible storage density at the lowest cost per gigabyte when compared to the competing alternative – SSDs.
During 2011, an unfortunate series of floods ravaged South Eastern Asia. As a result, storage manufacturers wrestled with supply and production difficulties which in turn led to skyrocketing prices – drives more than tripled in price. Since their stratospheric apex in 2012 though, those sticker-shocking prices have been steadily returning to Earth. Despite sliding prices though, the overall cost of hard drives has remained higher than pre-flood figures across numerous makes, models and capacities.
Interestingly, iSuppli also believes Western Digital could possibly usurp Seagate as the number-one hard drive manufacturer worldwide. The firm speculates that WD's helium technology – a feature acquired through its acquisition of HGST – could give the California-based drive-maker a palpable advantage over long-time rival Seagate.
While HDDs may struggle a bit in 2013, iSuppli foresees a far grimmer scenario for makers of optical drives and related media. The disappearance of optical drives from ever-shrinking laptops and computers alongside the world's increased reliance on cloud-based alternatives will ensure optical storage technologies continue to languish throughout 2013.