Working in Gartner’s semiconductor team I spend a lot of time explaining that semiconductors aren’t just black caterpillars with silver legs, but a bellwether for the entire IT industry. Semiconductors have to be designed and manufactured before any computing revolution can be unveiled by an impresario in a turtleneck sweater, so if you want to know what’s really going to happen next in computing then it starts with the semiconductors.
My specialism is wireless semiconductors – Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 5G, and that kind of thing, but sometimes other parts of the industry are more useful in showing which way the wind is blowing.
My colleague Joe Unsworth, for example, has just published a market share analysis of Solid-State Drives (SSDs), and reckons that 2018 performance will show us what’s going to happen in 2019, based on 3 key findings:
- The SSD Market is THE critical growth driver of NAND Flash. 44% of total NAND GB consumption goes into SSDs.
- The competitive dynamics remain fierce with Samsung remaining dominant but Toshiba Memory and Micron gaining share as WDC struggled
- PC SSD unit growth remained robust at 27.7% but huge price declines resulted in less revenue than the previous year.
- A severe oversupply and price crash ensures more of the same in 2019
- SSDs are only going to get cheaper, until the market starts to recover around the end of the year.
- Enterprise SSD sales cooled to under 15% and slowed especially late in 2018 due to subdued hyperscale demand.
- The trend continues in 2019 as enterprise SSD inventories remained high and prices continue to plummet
With SSD attach rates growing and capacities increasing due to price declines, the 2018 market share provides important historical context for comparison to 1H19 trends. Not all vendors will fare well though in 2019 – the survivors will possess a competitive NAND cost structure, have innovative controller technology and a broad portfolio that contains NVMe PCIe SSDs.
…which can probably be usefully summarized as: 2019 is going to be a great year to buy SSD memory, at least until the end of the year when the price will start to go up again.
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