Why Has Western Digital’s Hard Drive Revenue Dropped 35% Over The Past 5 Years, Despite 50% Growth In Exabytes Shipped?

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Western Digital (NASDAQ: WDC) has seen a steady growth in number of hard disk exabytes sold over the past 5 years, rising from 249 EB in 2015 to 383 EB in 2019, a growth of over 50%. (1 exabyte = 1 million terabytes)
Over the same period, Western Digital’s hard disk drive revenue has dropped from $13.65 billion to $8.75 billion, a drop of over 35%.

You can view our interactive dashboard- A Look At The Trend In Western Digital’s Exabytes Shipped And How It Has Affected Revenues– to find out more about what drove the inverse correlation between exabytes shipped and revenues.

Why did this happen?

  • WDC has seen a drop in HDD units sold, dropping from 228.7 million in 2015 to 120 million in 2019.
  • This is largely due to a drop in retail demand, with people preferring cloud storage and streaming services over physical memory.
  • Also, the price per TB has dropped from $54.82 to $22.85 over the same period, as memory devices sold now have 3-4 times the amount of storage space, as compared to devices back in 2015.

What does this mean?

  • Retail consumers are gradually moving toward streaming and cloud services, and this is bound to negatively affect Western Digital’s hard drive revenue going forward as well.
  • The number of exabytes sold might still consistently go up, as people’s data storage needs keep growing with time, and a 500GB hard drive that was the standard in 2015, has been replaced by 1TB and 2TB hard drives.
  • However, this is not a clear indicator of growth, as number of HDD units sold are consistently dropping, and devices with higher base storage space are also driving down the cost per bit.
  • With these factors in mind, we don’t see a direct correlation between exabytes shipped and HDD revenues anytime soon.

 

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