IHS: Hard drive market makes record rebound and 'full recovery'

Analysts assert that the hard drive market is back on track thanks to greater demand in both the consumer and enterprise PC markets.

The hard drive market has had a tough time in recent quarters since the flooding in Thailand last year that severely impacted the industry.

But it looks like things are really turning around for the segment now as market intelligence firm IHS iSuppli reports that the global hard disk drive industry has fully recovered -- and with at a record level, no less.

Analysts project that HDD shipments in 2012 will topple approximately 524.0 million units, a 4.3 percent increase from 502.5 million units in 2011, making it the highest annual shipment rate for the HDD market ever.

There have been a few signs pointing towards a full recovery recently. IHS reported in August that roughly 157 million hard disk drive units were shipped during the second quarter of 2012 -- up 8 percent from 145.1 million during Q1 2012.

Western Digital, in particular, is picking up even more quickly than expected as it retook the lead from Seagate in the global hard drive market in Q2 with roughly 71 million HDD units produced.

Fang Zhang, an analyst covering storage systems at IHS, predicted in the report that hard drive shipments will continue to rise, despite a sluggish third quarter:

The yearly rise in HDD shipments is the result of greater demand from the consumer and enterprise PC segments, both of which continue to clamor for disk space in order to hold storage-intensive media like music, videos and other forms of social media content. As downloadable media content becomes more readily accessible and affordable, so will the quest for storage space continue in order to satisfy unremitting demand. Meanwhile, the HDD industry has completely resolved disruptions to its HDD manufacturing and component supply caused by the Thailand disaster that struck one year ago.

There's also another factor cited in the report that is giving the HDD market a boost: the impending arrival of the Windows 8 operating system. In tangent to that, analysts expect that there will be a rise in Ultrabook shipments in the fourth quarter.