Hard disk drive shipments were unusually strong in Q2

U.S. drive makers benefitted most from surge in end-user demand

The global hard-disk drive (HDD) industry benefitted from unusually strong demand between April and the end of June, normally the weakest season for the industry, market researcher iSuppli said Wednesday.

Worldwide HDD shipments during the second quarter trumped the first quarter by nearly 3 percent to 89.7 million units thanks to abnormally strong end-user demand for computers and consumer electronics products, according to iSuppli.

Normally, HDD shipments fall a tad in the second quarter, but the demand increase ensured they beat the 87.3 million units shipped during the first three months of the year, the market researcher said.

The industry also overcame a shortage of HDD media, the portion of the disk upon which data is actually written and read from, to expand during the second quarter, iSuppli said.

U.S. drive makers benefitted most from the demand surge. Scotts Valley, California-based Seagate Technology extended its lead in the market, accounting for nearly a third of worldwide shipments during the three month period, iSuppli said.

The company made 30.5 percent of global HDD shipments during the second quarter, up from 28.6 percent in the first quarter. Western Digital retained its second-place ranking in HDDs during the same period, at 17.6 percent, while Maxtor fell one spot to fourth place with a 13.5 percent share of shipments, according to iSuppli.

Japanese companies fared worse than their U.S. rivals, but Hitachi Global Storage Technologies rose a notch to third place with a 15.5 percent share of global HDD shipments.

Toshiba remained in fifth place with a 7.7 percent share of unit shipments. The company started this week shipping 1.8-inch hard drives based on new perpendicular recording technology.

Perpendicular storage technology is a method of data storage that is only just beginning to come into commercial use in hard-disk drives. It allows much more data to be stored on a disk because the magnetic particles on which data is stored stand perpendicular to the disk's surface, so more of them can be packed onto the disk than in the current longitudinal recording method in which they lay flat.

Fujitsu's HDD operations placed seventh with a 6.7 percent share of HDD unit shipments. The company does not serve the fastest growing segment of the HDD market, the consumer electronics segment.

South Korean technology powerhouse Samsung Electronics Co. took sixth place, with a 6.9 percent share, up from 6.6 percent during the first quarter, according to iSuppli.