HDD Sales Crater, Drop 35% Year-over-Year

Sales of hard disk drives in the first quarter dropped by a whopping 35% year-over-year in Q1 2023 as PC and consumer electronics (CE) makers remained cautious getting new hardware due to uncertain demand. But the most surprising event during the quarter was continued shrinkage of nearline HDD shipments, the most lucrative part of the hard drive market.

Unit Shipments Down, Exabytes Shipments Dow

Seagate, Toshiba, and Western Digital shipped estimated 33.5 and 34.9 million HDD units, a 35% year-over-year decline, according to numbers from Trendfocus published by Blocks & Files.  

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 – Cell 0 Q1 2023 Q1 2022 Change
Nearline 10.2 million 18.8 million -54.3%
PC Client + CE 22.5 million 31.25 million -28%
3.5-inch DT + CE 12.5 million 16.447 million -24%
2.5-inch Laptop + CE 10 million 24.925 million -33%

Nearline HDDs have been bread and butter for hard drive makers for a while given their consistently increasing per-drive capacities. But in Q1 2023 only 10.2 million of such drives were shipped, down from 18.8 million from Q1 2022 and 10.51 million in Q4 2022. On the capacity side of matters, such drives shipped was around 157EBs, declining by 36% year-over-year (YoY) and 1% quarter-over-quarter (QoQ). 

Seagate believes that the nearline HDD shipments are poised to grow in the future as their consumers (read: exascalers) expect their businesses to prosper. 

“I will say for the medium-term, long-term, we don’t see any difference,” said Gianluca Romano, chief financial officer of Seagate, at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference (via SeekingAlpha). “I think they are very confident their business is going to grow as they were expecting they need to manage their short term down cycle and with no in some cases, in some cases, this inventory build-up, but we don’t see any change in the long-term view.” 

As far as PC and CE-oriented drives are concerned, their shipments totaled 23.3 to 24.7 million units, a decline of 24% – 33% depending on the exact segment. The 2.5-inch HDD segmented recorded a yet another major year-over year decline of 33%. This decrease highlights the ongoing trend of hard drives PC and CE market share declining, so this was not a particularly surprising thing.

Seagate Retains Top Spot

As far as shipments of individual vendors are concerned, Seagate sold estimated 15 – 15.5 million hard drives and maintained its market share of around 44.8%, according to Storage Newsletter that cites numbers from Trendfocus. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Supplier HDD Units Q/Q change Y/Y change Market share
Seagate 15.00 – 15.50 million -2.3% — -1% -34.7% — -32.6% 44.8% — 44.4%
Toshiba 6.30 – 6.70 million -21.4% — -16.5% -37.2% — -33.2% 18.8% — 9.2%
WDC 12.20 – 12.70 million -5.4% — -1.5% -38.2% — -35.6% 36.4% — 36.4%
TOTAL 33.50 – 34.90 million -7.6% — -3.8% -36.5 — -33.9% 100%

Western Digital reportedly supplied some 12.2 – 12.7 million HDDs and commanded an approximately 36.4% share. Toshiba remained a distant third with an estimated shipment of 6.3 – 6.7 million units and a roughly 19% market share.