Is the HDD-market dwindeling though? i thought need for storage (perhaps somewhat surprisingly), is increasing at a steady rate, and that HDDs are selling more and more?
Really small devices like phones, media players, hand held game machines, cameras use embedded flash and/or slot based removable storage (think SD cards and such). Remember when the Ipod had a hard drive in it? (IPod Classic was a 1.8" Toshiba HD, Ipod Mini was a 1" HD made by Hitachi or Seagate)
Slightly larger devices will still have the slot but they may also have an internal PCIe (or other internal connector) populated with storage. In the past that was micro hard drives but now that is embedded flash or a SSD.
Next step up is netbooks/tablets with SATA connectors. Those are almost 100% converted from HD to SSD at this point and any that are left will go that way without a doubt.
Next step up is notebooks/luggables any portable computer larger than a netbook basically. It's a forgone conclusion that all of those will do away with the HD and go SSD as soon as price isn't an issue.
Then Desktop PCs. For people without insane collections a single SSD can replace any HD they use. For 90+% of the business desktop PCs the smallest SSD will do the job fine (Intel IT moved to 80GB drives as the only disk in laptops then later switched to 160GB drives, I think you'll see similar moves on the desktop as well due to reliability, whole disk encryption/performance, power draw). And then there are the enthusiasts. The ones without collections will just go SSD the ones with will do SSD + HDs in RAID until SSDs get cheap enough to replace the HDs.
Servers. SSDs trounce the snot out of rotating disks in IOPS, power draw, and most usage patterns. Cost and upgrade cycles are the only thing slowing the sure and steady march from turning into a run as they migrate from HDs to SSDs.
So the question isn't if, but when.
"For all of 2010, global HDD unit shipments are expected to rise to 674.6 million units up 22.8 percent from 549.5 million in 2009. This contrasts markedly with 2009, when shipments declined by 2 percent."
That quote is from April 2010 so it's a year old. Lets see if I can find a new quote.
"Calendar 2010 was a year of tremendous opportunity for the hard drive industry with 651 million drives shipped
" That is from April 19th 2011 so yesterday as I write this. Apparently they didn't hit the estimate of 674.6M instead it was 651M, still an increase over the prior year. "At 16 percent, this was the industry's strongest full year unit growth in five years." "Full-year revenue for the industry expanded by some 13 percent" so the increase in units was at a cost of slightly cheaper products but not dramatically so.
"However, it was also a year of significant missed opportunity as the industry's supply/demand dynamic deteriorated as the year progressed, resulting in sharply declining ASPs, with the final quarter demonstrating a year-over-year decline in industry revenue of 7 percent on a unit increase of 4 percent, and an even sharper decline in profitability,"
"Seagate also took a negative view, explaining in executive commentary that the quarter represented a "less than normal seasonal increase in demand for hard disk drives", and that margins had been hurt by intense price competition."
WD chief operating officer Timothy Leyden implied that hard-drive prices should continue to decline in the near term.
"While inventories in the HDD supply chain exiting the quarter were well controlled in each segment, we still believe that despite a reduction of approximately 2 million to 3 million HDDs in the PC supply chain, there is still an inventory excess of some 6 million to 8 million HDD units in the PC manufacturers' pipeline, and this will place additional downward pressure on the HDD TAM in the March quarter," he said.
So the full on decline of traditional hard drives hasn't started yet. But we are close enough to the peak that the companies are looking ahead and two players are bowing out. The two remaining big dogs Seagate and WD are both seriously looking at Hybrid drives with flash memory, SRAM, rotating disks, and a controller smart enough to mix and match as needed as the next step volume wise. That'll muddy the waters a bit as a quality hybrid drive will extend the life of rotating disks but price wise it isn't the same product that they've been shipping.
Just look at the price of Seagates Momentus XT vs a traditional HD vs a traditional SSD.
250GB traditional HD ~$40
250GB Momentus XT ~$100
250GB SSD ~$400
The SSD will drop in price by 20% to 30% per year (higher percentages at the lowest highest capacities but the mid range SSDs will move lower in slow methodical steps for the most part). The hybrid HD will likely milk profits and try to stay between the price per GB of hard drives and the price per GB of SSDs.
It'll be interesting to see what WD, Seagate, and Toshiba do going forward but it'll be like watching grass grow in between announcements.