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Hard drive resurgence to drive PC sales

28 Sep 2012
Hitachi GTS USC 10K 900 Hard Drive

The hard drive manufacturing sector has overcome an early-year shortage caused by flooding in Thailand to ship a record number of units in recent months, spurring hope for improved PC sales in the IT sector.

Research firm IHS estimates that by the end of the year, total hard drive shipments are expected to hit upwards of 524 million, a new record and a 4.3 percent increase from total shipments in the 2011 calendar year.

Much of the increase was credited to the forthcoming release of Windows 8. Microsoft's new operating system will spur the sale of new PCs and will likely send sales figures skyrocketing in the coming months as users purchase new and upgraded PCs to better handle the new operating system, it predicted.

The rise also signifies a recovery in the manufacturing sector. When flooding in Thailand damaged many of the world's primary hard disk drive facilities, the entire PC industry saw a storage shortfall which hindered system builders and led to a temporary slump in PC sales.

"The yearly rise in HDD shipments is the result of greater demand from the consumer and enterprise PC segments, both of which continue to clamour for disk space in order to hold storage-intensive media like music, videos and other forms of social media content. As downloadable media content becomes more readily accessible and affordable, so will the quest for storage space continue in order to satisfy unremitting demand," said IHS storage systems analyst Fang Zhang.

"Meanwhile, the HDD industry has completely resolved disruptions to its HDD manufacturing and component supply caused by the Thailand disaster that struck one year ago."

The resurgence should come as welcome news for vendors throughout the PC sector who have been struggling with lower-than expected financial returns due to the shortage. Companies including Intel and HP cited the slow PC market in helping to bring down their quarterly figures.

IHS said that it expects the market to continue its climb in the coming years. By 2016, the company estimates that manufacturers could ship upwards of 575 million hard drives annually.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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