comparing the SSD market today
earlier tech disruptions
by Zsolt Kerekes,
editor - January 3, 2012
|It probably won't
surprise you to learn that the subject of SSDs came up a lot with the friends
and relatives I talked to during the recent Christmas holiday.|
I explain the significance of the SSD market to people with diverse backgrounds
in a couple of sentences?
That's quite a challenge.
easiest people to discuss the SSD market with are those with a background in
electronics - particularly if they have worked in semiconductor companies.
are also many common frames of reference when I talk to people who have
worked in the computer market.
Despite that, however, the
semiconductor related issues (such as risks of potential bottlenecks in
product roadmaps and reliability subtleties and cost factors associated with
of flash memory) are concepts which are beyond the comprehension of most
computer people - even if they understand how processors work. CPU designers
have stuck to the safe side of the chip technology rules street in recent
decades - whereas SSD designers have been crashing around and beyond the
safety barriers of accepted memory process design rules.
who are very computer literate just have to accept that there are important
strands in chip technology which they can't understand from first principles -
and they therefore have to rely on indirect clues and hope that the reference
sources they trust are correct when it comes to making supplier choices.
the flurry of acquisition and IPO fever in the SSD market in
2011 - it's
become much easier discussing the significance of the SSD market with people
whose backgrounds are financial - like accountants and business managers with
MBAs. That's because money talks. And the SSD financials tell a clear story.
Here is a market which was till recently too small to bother learning about.
But it now such good prospects for revenue growth (100% / year in some
segments) and potential
towering revenue ceilings. These factors mean that a handful of leading
SSD companies were valued in 2011 at a total amount worth more than the
combined revenue of the entire market of several hundred SSD companies. SSDs
could be a new tech growth bubble.
The toughest people for me to
explain the context of the SSD market to - are those who have no technology
background at all - even if they have achieved senior positions in people
related markets - like law and psychology.
In those circumstances I
know that not a word I say about architecture, chip technology or market size
is going to be understood. But I can still find reference points from everyday
life. And my argument goes something like this.
Since the early 1970s
there have been 3 revolutionary disruptive influences in the electronics and
I can relate where I think we are in the SSD market at the
start of 2012 to distinct phases in those earlier revolutionary markets.
- the commercialization of the internet
with the microprocessor market.
The first microprocessors started
shipping in the early 1970s. By 1980 - it was clear that the micro was going to
affect a lot more than just the computer peripherals market. By that time micros
were being designed for wide deployment in factory automation and process
control systems and the new digital technologies enabled improvements in the
levels of efficiency and repeatable quality in the manufacture of everything
from foodstuffs and chemicals to cars - which had previously been impossible.
All this was still before the introduction of the Wintel PC - which as a
standard reference platform later enabled the creation of entirely new markets.
I would say that the SSD market today (despite its long
is similar to the state of the microprocessor market in 1980. Some of the SSD
types and applications for SSDs are already in use - but we still haven't got to
the equivalent of the 16/32 bit micro market - because there are many
architectural improvements and reference platforms still to be developed.
with the internet market.
The internet moved into a new higher
orbit with the introduction of commercial web sites in 1995. Before then the
primary use of the internet had been email - but as we now know - the web
eventually made it easier to find out information about almost anything and
then buy it in almost seamless real-time transactions.
equate the state of the SSD market today with the state of the web in about 1998
- when you could already see a lot of the promise and the direction that the
web was going towards (the hype was so great we had the dotcom bubble) but this
was still before Google became operational and long before the economics of
digital rights management - and iTunes and the Kindle.
In the SSD
market today we can extrapolate from current business uses of SSDs and speculate
about future SSD enabled markets. But we still haven't got the pure play SSD
enabled information economies in play yet. Most of what we've got today with
Facebook, YouTube and online games is SSD accelerated versions of businesses
that already existed before.
How long before we get to the Kindle age
in the SSD market?
I expect we'll see entirely new SSD enabled
in the next few years - but it could be 2015 or later before it starts to be
clear who the SSD equivalents of the Wintel platform (leveraging the
microprocessor) or Amazon and Apple (leveraging the web) will be.
you're the CEO in a new startup and you think that your SSD enabled services
will change the world - send me an email when you're ready for our readers to
|With the benefit of
hindsight it can now be clearly seen that 2003 - which saw the shipments of the
first terabyte SSD systems - also marked the beginning of the Modern Era in
the SSD market. |
After 2003 the only technology which could displace
an SSD from its market role was another SSD (or another SSD-centric
|From up here Terrorbyte's ancient|
vaults looked almost charming.
|10+ years of "MRAM
will soon replace flash", the missing 20K RPM hard drive and some
optical storage illusions too|
|SSD's past phantom demons|
|"Financial data is
backwards looking, is too late to provide visibility in fast growing
discontinuous markets, and is not available for significant companies in the
market which are privately owned."|
|the Top SSD Companies - 2007
|SSD revenue will exceed $10
billion / year sometime in the next several years. |
That's old news.
I published that market potential size prediction back in
won't stop there.
I now have good reasons for thinking that SSDs have
the potential to eventually become a $100 billion / year market by the close of
- quoted in the email -
Opens for Flash Memory Summit (June 2013).|