Report: the iPad Taking Byte from Hard Drive Sales



The conventional hard disk drive may be going the way of the floppy disk, a retirement accelerated by Apple’s increasing use of flash memory in such popular devices as the iPad. Hard drive maker Western Digital could see shipments for netbooks and inexpensive laptops fall by 10 to 20 percent, the company CEO told reporters Tuesday.

CEO John Coyne told analysts investors should take a longer view about his industry in words meant to reassure a nervous Wall Street. “What I would say to investors is to look at the long-term demand for storage, the fact is the most appropriate solution for mass volume storage is hard drives and to look at the long-term progress the industry has made over the last 10 years,” he said in a call.

Western Digital has watched its stock price fall 35 percent since January and is now mentioned as a buyout candidate. Fellow hard drive maker Seagate has become the focus of some private equity firms looking to buy the company and take it off the public listings. Seagate will report quarterly earnings Wednesday.

Apple is expected Wednesday to introduce a new MacBook Air that replaces the current hard disk drive and solid-state drive with a smaller “SSD Card.” Flash memory makers Toshiba and Samsung are in the opposite position of Western Digital and Seagate. Toshiba is expected to report a 43 percent increase in sales. Apple lists Toshiba as providing the iPad’s storage, although an iFixit teardown found Samsung flash memory inside the tablet.

Another hardware analyst firm, iSuppli, recently estimated the iPad will create a 296 percent jump in flash memory demand for 2011. The iPad and rivals will use 1.7 billion GB of flash memory next year, up from 428 billion GB in 2010, according to iSuppli.

Earlier this year, analysts warned the iPhone would create “insatiable demand” for flash memory. In 2009, another Apple product, the iPod was said to have caused a “serious shortage” of NAND.

[via AppleInsider, Reuters]


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.