Tablets' rise knocks HDD shipments

The increase in popularity of tablets has meant that HDD shipments will be hit as netbooks appear to continue to be edged out of the market.

With the second incarnation of the iPad unveiled today it is almost clear how popular tablets have become since Apple released its first take on the platform last year.

And all the signs so far have been that its most direct competitor, and the platform that appears most likely to fall at the expense of the tablet rise, is the netbook, with statistics from IHS iSuppli stating that is one of the main reasons that the market for HDDs will dip at the beginning of this year.

HDD shipments in the first quarter of 2011 are anticipated to reach 160.9 million units, down 3.9 percent from 167.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2010.

“Tablets like Apple’s iPad represent a major threat to HDD demand,” said Fang Zhang, analyst for storage systems at IHS.

“Among the various computing segments in which HDDs are used, the netbook—with lower computing capabilities than either a desktop or laptop—is considered the most vulnerable to being supplanted by tablets, which do not use hard disks as storage media.”

“And as tablet adoption gains momentum, netbooks will suffer even greater declines.”

It is expected that in the first quarter of 2011 HDD shipment are expected to reach 160.9million units, representing a decline from the 167.5 seen in the fourth quarter of 2010.

There are however reasons not connected with the tablet performance, with declines in other segments which drive HDD demand such as notebooks, desktops and consumer electronics sending overall growth into decline, even though other areas such as entry level servers actually saw an increase.

Also an oversupply of between six to eight million drives in the last quarter is expected to have an impact.

Whether or not this is a trend that is set to continue is not clear however, as the beginning of the year is generally a slow time for sales in the HDD market.

In terms of suppliers IHS iSuppli noted that Western Digital once again claimed top spot for shipments in the last quarter shipping 52.2m units, beating Seagate which accounted for 48.9m as its Asia-Pacific region weakened in the final quarter of 2010.

Meanwhile Hitachi Global Storage managed to prise away some of Seagate’s share, with shipments totaling 30.3m.