Digital Content in Average U.S. Home Could Total 12TB by 2014

According to 2009 CE Storage Report
This is a Press Release edited by on 2009.05.26

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The 2009 Consumer Electronics Storage Report is the eighth report on data storage and emerging applications and the sixth report on data storage and the consumer electronics market published by Coughlin Associates. The consumer electronics market will be impacted by the overall economy in 2009 and well into 2010 but a recovery in 2011 could drive renewed demand for consumer electronic products and digital storage to support them. In addition some storage products for the consumer market are still experiencing growth, such as external storage products for homes and small businesses.

Accumulated Digital Content in Average American Home

The data storage capacity requirements for consumer devices will increase as part of the economic recovery. This demand is fueled by the availability of inexpensive digital storage devices, increasing interface and Internet bandwidth as well as greater processing power in smaller devices. The combination of developments in these technologies is enabling the availability of greater amounts of content and at higher resolutions. It is also enabling the growth of user generated content at higher and higher resolutions. By 2014 digital content in an average US home could total almost 12 terabytes and overall consumer content, including commercial, personal as well as shared content could add up to over 1 zetabyte worldwide.

The development of greater direct attached interface speeds and more sophisticated local and remote digital backup and archiving functions is creating a greater capability to protect and preserve personal and commercial content in the home. In some cases the software and services for remote backup even approach the capabilities of true continuous data protection. This is expected to lead to significant growth in external storage for backup and data protection as well as storage expansion (such as DVR expanders). We project that by 2014 the market for small external storage will approach 120 million units using about 150 million disk drives. This includes direct attached as well as network attached storage.

The mobile device storage market is favoring flash memory, particularly for lower resolution content since it is possible to buy lower capacities of flash memory for prices less than the cheapest hard disk drive. Flash memory has nearly displaced optical disks for music play out for younger users. Hard disk drives are favored for higher resolution media players (especially for video) and higher end camcorders. Hard disk drives might also be required for hypothetical life logs and personal memory assistants-which would swell user generated content. At the same time the bulk of portable media players and lower end camcorders are expected to use primarily flash memory.

Hard disk drives are expected to rule the static consumer applications in most homes since they offer significant amounts of digital storage needed for using content intended for larger screens and for maintaining larger content libraries that are downloaded to mobile devices for temporary use. As discussed earlier hard disk drives will be used for backup and storage expansion and for static consumer applications. Downloading content from the web will also favor hard disk drives since these devices are usually the final repository for any such content that is retained by the user.

Optical discs are struggling to remain competitive for playout of music as well as distribution of various types of video and software content. As Internet bandwidths increase and hard disk capacities grow there will be a trend of declining sales of CDs and DVDs which are now forced to compete against downloaded content. In addition flash memory $/GB are approaching those of optical disks putting additional pressure on optical disc storage.

The best chance for optical distribution to remain competitive is in higher resolution content since downloading such content is difficult except in higher bandwidth households. We expect that in the next ten years content files of several hundred GB or more could be used by consumers for Ultra-HD, 3D video or even higher resolution content. This could help defend optical disc use but nevertheless optical disc sales are expected to decline for consumer applications over the next few years.

Overall digital storage capacity shipped into homes could reach 900 exabytes. The bulk of this storage capacity will be on hard disk drives, followed by flash memory and then optical discs.

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The 150-page 2009 Consumer Electronics Storage Report from Coughlin Associates and Objective Analysis costs $7,000.