On May 25th 2006, Alan Weissberger attended an IEEE Magnetics-Consumer Electronics seminar where Dr. Eli Harari, CEO of SanDisk, spoke about current trends and applications of Flash memories. It’s widely recognized that consumer electronics has been the main engine of tech growth, but the influence of dramatically improved price-performance of Flash memories have been underestimated by most analysts. Flash technology has advanced to unlock much greater price elasticity, which is accelerating growth in the consumer electronics market -especially smart phones capable of receiving streaming and real time video.
Let’s focus on mobile video and multi-media gaming on the move. While issues like wireless spectrum, packet radio protocols, compression, DRM have grabbed the headlines, Flash memory is just as important an enabler of mobile video and multi-media on handsets. In fact, the storage of video, music, emails, and web content on handsets is growing at a 68% CAGR, according to Dr. Harari.
The combination of advances in Flash technology with 3G mobile broadband (including WiMAX) is enabling much richer content distribution to handsets. With a projection of 1 billion new global consumers of mobile broadband in the next decade, there will be tremendous growth in this area. The mobile content evolution will give rise to smart phones that include video and music downloads, web access, multi-media gaming, camera, GPS functionality, and other applications. DRM solutions are expected to accelerate consumption.
What about the future? A terabyte in your pocket, a petabyte in your home? Within the next decade we might see these levels of personal storage requirements. Already a terabyte hard disk drive can be seen on the near horizon. New applications will drive storage capacity, performance, and unit growth for all types of storage devices. Growing storage demand for consumer applications will join with industrial storage system demand to create an unprecedented demand for storage.
Within 5 years personal content (created by non-commercial sources) will equal and even exceed commercial content in many homes. Supplying storage to support the creation and delivery of commercial as well as personal and quasi-commercial digital content, including non-traditional delivery to support new markets such as IPTV and mobile phones will become an important factor ensuring storage growth.