Leading industry watchers like IDC and Gartner early this year predicted that the first quarter of 2016 would not be good for the PC industry and various companies agreed with that. The reasons for the declines are well known: global economic issues, the slowdown in China, the strong U.S. dollar as well as competition from smartphones and other devices. As sales of PCs were not strong as predicted, this negatively affected the hard drive market.

According to Gartner, PC shipments worldwide totaled 64.8 million units in the first quarter of 2016, a decrease of 9.6% from Q1 2015. The company notes that this was the first time since 2007 that shipment volume fell below 65 million units. Analysts from IDC are even more pessimistic because based on their findings, shipments of PCs in the first quarter totaled 60.6 million units, a year-over-year (YoY) drop of 11.5%. As we noted in our previous coverage of the HDD market earlier this year, the decline of HDD shipments in 2015 significantly outpaced the regress of the PC market. As it appears, the same happened in the first quarter of 2016 as the total available market of hard drives dropped to a new multi-year low.

Shipments of HDDs Total 99.8 Million Units in Q1 2016

Seagate, Toshiba and Western Digital, the three remaining producers of HDDs, shipped a total of 99.8 million hard drives in Q1 2016, or 20% less than in the same period a year ago according to their estimates (see counting methodology below). According to estimates from Nidec, the company that sells the majority of small precision motors for HDDs (over 80% of them, based on its own estimates), the industry sold 98 million hard drives in Q1, but it is worth noting that Nidec is typically very conservative. In the same quarter of last year, Seagate, Toshiba and Western Digital sold 125 million HDDs, whereas just six years ago the industry shipped 163 million units. In fact, even in Q1 2006, sales of HDDs totaled 101.7 million units, according to iSuppli (via EDN), which means that we might be talking about a 10-year low in hard drives shipments.

Sales of PCs in general (and hard drives in particular) are seasonally not strong in the first quarter of the year, which is why it is not surprising that they declined to around 100 million units from 115 million units in Q4 2015. What is alarming is that despite this seasonal change, Q1 2015 shipments of HDDs were higher than sales of hard drives in each of the remaining quarters last year. If this year follows the same negative pattern, then HDD shipments will be below 100 million units in the second quarter and will remain below that level in the second half of the year. Western Digital estimates that total available market (TAM) of HDDs will decline to 95 million units in the second quarter, which means a decline of around 15% from the same period last year. A moderately good news is that Western Digital seems to be optimistic about the second half and believes that HDD TAM will remain above 400 million units mark in 2016 (compared to 456 million units in 2015), which means that shipments of hard drives will grow in calendar Q3 and calendar Q4. IDC has asserted that inventory reductions, cautious buying and other additional elements of the equation that directly affected makers of components in the recent quarters are wrapping up, Western Digital’s optimism could well be justified.

Market Share: Seagate, WD and Toshiba Shipments
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  • Michael Bay - Thursday, May 12, 2016 - link

    Just how many games do you have to download to hit a terabyte?
    I do backup my games on an external HDD, and there are maybe 400GB for something like a hundred of titles!
  • Wolfpup - Thursday, July 14, 2016 - link

    My library long since outgrew my 4TB drives...though thankfully still fits inside 8TB (I think...I'm not done redownloading it ahead of the caps...)
  • olderkid - Thursday, May 12, 2016 - link

    I think the fact that you download a TB of games a month negates worrying about adding a wife and kids....
  • maximumGPU - Thursday, May 12, 2016 - link

    i lol'd!
  • FunBunny2 - Thursday, May 12, 2016 - link

    yeah, cruel.
  • Gothmoth - Thursday, May 12, 2016 - link

    wife and kids are useless.

    get a fuckfriend and live happy.....
  • azazel1024 - Friday, May 13, 2016 - link

    I suspect with that espoused belief, your desired goal is likely not achievable.

    But go get 'em tiger. Live the dream.

    On caps, any on a wire is stupid, but at least with a 1TB cap, that would be pretty hard to hit (without 4k video) for probably 99.9% of people. I know I am not the heaviest of heavy users, but my entire family of 5 hits around 500-600GB a month. That is about 7hrs per day of Netflix streaming between all 5 family members, though realistically it is a mix of Youtube minecraft videos, some Netflix, PBS kids, the rare game download, etc and probably working out to an average 2hrs per person per day.

    I am sure if we cut the cord entirely it would go up even more, but probably still pretty comfortably under 1TB. I am absolutely not advocating that caps are reasonable. I feel like it isn't unreasonable to say that there should be SOME super high cap, especially if the point is it is a residential connection and not supposed to be running a business, "servers", etc. The data does cost your ISP something if it goes outside their network, even if we are talking a penny a GB, so I don't think it is unreasonable to say that pushing/pulling something like 30TB of data a month is "okay", but your typical even 1TB cap is just stupid.
  • Wolfpup - Thursday, July 14, 2016 - link

    That little? I use about that much on months I'm not downloading much just for mostly myself, and I could go MUCH heavier on the streaming video..
  • Wolfpup - Thursday, July 14, 2016 - link

    *rolls eyes*
  • Wolfpup - Thursday, July 14, 2016 - link

    Yeah, I've been redownloading my library the past few months and using like 2TB+.

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