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Seagate Top 2006 HDD Shipper

El Segundo, Calif. – The top four hard drive manufacturers added market share from 2005 to 2006, despite a components shortage that could have caused problems for the category, according to iSuppli.

For 2006, iSuppli reported the industry shipped 432.2 million hard drives, a 15.5 percent increase over 2005, which it partially attributed to the booming external hard drive market. The research firm said external-drive shipments were up 37 percent from the previous year on 2.6 million units shipped.

In the fourth quarter, the overall market saw 119.7 million shipped, up 15.8 percent from the same period the prior year.

What particularly impressed iSuppli’s Krishna Chander, the firm’s storage systems analyst, is the category flourished while undergoing a components shortage.

Seagate and Western Digital remained the top two hard drive shippers, but Hitachi Global Storage and Samsung each showed marked improvement in 2006. All but Hitachi grabbed some of the share created when Seagate acquired former top-player Maxtor, Chander said, adding that Samsung also helped its own cause by bringing new manufacturing capacity online during the year.

Maxtor had 14.1 percent of the market in 2005, its last year as an independent company.

Toshiba even added a small amount of share, despite the almost elimination of the 1-inch drive market when those hard drives were replaced by flash memory in smaller capacity MP3 players.

Chander did not foresee a major fall-off in hard drive demand for 2007, and he is looking forward to the latter part of 2007 when the first hybrid flash/hard drives hit the market.

“There is a lot of potential for these drives,” he said, adding that quite a few details still need to be worked out by the vendors prior to the units shipping. This includes pricing and how much flash memory is needed for each drive.

HDD Supplier Ranking for 2005 and 2006
(Ranking by Percentage of Unit Shipments)