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HDD maintains lead over SSD in notebook space

Posted: 24 Jul 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IHS? HDD? SSD? notebook? solid state drive?

According to IHS, conventional notebooks with HDDs as the main storage will keep a leading market share against those with solid state drives (SSDs). This is despite sluggish sales and the roll out of SSD-equipped notebooks that totally eliminate HDDs such as the Microsoft Surface, added the market research firm.

Among all notebooks outfitted with either HDD or SSD as their storage media, models with hard disks larger than 500GB and priced from $450 to $550 accounted for the biggest share of the market in Q1, at 32 percent. The second-biggest segment of 26 percent belonged to notebooks integrating HDDs larger than 320GB and priced between $350 and $450. Only three percent of the market belonged to 128GB SSD laptops or very high-end HDD notebook PCs both priced above $900.


Figure 1: Worldwide Market Share Forecast of Notebook PCs Using Either HDDs or SSDs as Storage Medium, Q1 2012
Source: IHS iSuppli Research, July 2012

The notebooks in consideration here use entire HDDs or SSDs as their storage capacity. Not included are notebooks featuring a hybrid form of storage media!such as a hard disk drive complemented by a cache solid state drive, as in the case with the newly popular ultrabooks; or a hard disk alongside a separate layer of NAND flash memory.

The recent market-share rankings do not take into account the influence of the yet-to-be-released Surface tablet from Microsoft. But because the tablet is set to launch in Q3, its appearance will be too late to have any significant negative impact on the notebook market in 2012, IHS said. Moreover, the consumer tablet version of the Surface, dubbed RT, features just 32-64GB of SSD space!too small to run against conventional notebooks. Contention could conceivably arise in the form of the Pro version of the Surface, whose SSD storage of 64-128GB SSD means the tablet could be used as a functional PC!even though its real bearing on the notebook market cannot be gauged until the Surface Pro is introduced sometime early next year.

Still, the HDD-based notebook PC space could come under fire should the price of either SSD-equipped notebooks or the Surface tablets fall below $700, the sweet spot for pricing currently for notebook computers as a whole. For instance, a price cut by Apple on the MacBook Air will likely affect the future prospects of HDD-based notebooks.

The threat potential from the Surface is more uncertain at this point given that no firm pricing for the device is yet available. However, the same price ceiling of $700 applies, and notebooks in general could very well feel the competitive heat of the tablet, especially as the Surface already carries a physical keyboard!something missing from the reigning champion of the overall tablet space, the Apple iPad, which uses only virtual keys. Already, sales of notebooks have suffered in the time that the iPad first entered the market in 2010 and cannibalized notebook sales in the process.

For now at least, the HDD industry can rest secure in the knowledge that hard disks will continue to be the dominant storage medium for notebook computers!until the next battle shapes up from SSDs and tablets.

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