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If you shop for computer parts online, then you may have been aware of the recent global shortage of hard drives. With natural disasters in Japan and Thailand (home to some of the largest hard drive manufacturers in the world), production suddenly shrunk, forcing many retailers to limit the number of hard drives shipped to consumers.
Fortunately for the computer industry – as well as Japan and Thailand – hard drive manufacturing has almost fully rebounded. Factories in those countries have been cleaned out and, provided that a major natural disaster doesn’t strike the region within the next few months, hard drive production should be fully caught up by the halfway mark of 2012.
What does this mean for computer parts retailers? Well, hard drive shipments are expected to increase by approximately 7.7% in 2012 as compared to the year before, and the hard-drive industry as a whole is expected to grow by a whopping 9.6% between 2011 and 2016. This means more hard drives will be available for both retailers and consumers.
However, this increase in supply may not reduce the price of hard drives – at least not at first. While hard drive prices should decline over the next few years, this price drop won’t necessarily reflect the increasing numbers of hard drives shipped.
Instead of reducing prices, computer parts manufacturers will invest the extra profit into new hard drive technologies, something that the industry may not have focused on in recent years. Hard drive producer Seagate, for example, promises that 60TB HDDs will be possible with next generation storage technology.
The current 3.5 inch hard drive model allows only 620Gb per square inch, which means that the total space cannot exceed 3TB. With expanding technology, the data density on hard drives could increase to as much as 10 terabits per square inch, which would allow 30TB to 60TB hard drives to be a distinct possibility.
The future looks bright for hard drive manufacturers, and consumers should expect to see lower component prices – eventually. If you have the patience, expect to see larger, faster hard drives available at increasingly lower prices in the coming years.