Forward-looking: Hard drive sales have been on the decline for years, and while spinning disks aren't going to dissapear overnight, involved companies are already looking elsewhere. As hard drive sales and revenue shrink, companies like Nidec who have been in the market for years must restructure to address new growth areas. Nidec, a longtime supplier of spindle motors for hard drives, predicts hard drive shipments will drop by almost 50 percent this year. As such, the motor maker will shift its focus to areas like brushless DC motors and 5G antennas.

The forecast for hard drives as it pertains to the broader consumer market continues to look grim. Nidec, a Japanese motor manufacturer, predicts hard drive shipments could slide by nearly 50 percent this year.

Nidec produces the spindle motors used in hard drives, they claim its product can be found in some 85 percent of products on the market. That would lend a certain amount of credence to its projections. The company will also be weaning itself off the hard drive market, repurposing some of its operations to address key growth areas like 5G, automotive, and home appliances.

According to the data presented by Nidec, hard drive sales have dropped by 43 percent between 2010 and 2018; or, going from 650 million units to just 375 million. Unit sales will continue to trend downwards in 2019, as they revised its shipment forecast from 356 million units to 309 million units. Nidec expects to ship even less in 2020, with shipments forecasted at only 290 million units.

As expected, internal storage for PCs and notebooks are in the toughest spot as there's a long awaited migration to solid state storage. Nicec notes that PC hard drives have been gradually declining since 2013, but 2019 will see a sharp drop – going from 124 million units sold in 2018 to just 64 million units in 2019, or roughly a 48 percent decline.

However, external storage and nearline storage are expected to remain stable, and even grow a bit. Spinning disks still offer the cheapest, densest storage available, and while they're not relevant for primary storage anymore, they still offer significant value in areas like NAS, surveillance, or secondary storage.