FRAMINGHAM, MA – Worldwide personal and entry-level storage (PELS) shipments totaled 68.5 million units in 2015, down 9.2% year-over-year, according to the International Data Corporation.

Annual shipment values were down 15.1% year-over-year to $5.4 billion. Unit shipments in the fourth quarter experienced a 6.8% decrease from a year ago to 19.1 million units. Shipment values declined 12.6% to $1.5 billion.

"2015 marks the first year of decline in the personal and entry-level storage market since the Thailand floods in 2011," said Jingwen Li, senior research analyst, Storage Systems. "The growing utilization of cloud storage continues to negatively affect the demand for PELS. In response, players in the PELS market are being forced to either capture more market opportunities through M&A or go through reorganization to better position their PELS business."

The relative shares of personal vs. entry-level storage remained stable in the fourth quarter. Personal storage continued to account for almost 99% of total market shipments. The shrinking of the PELS market has been negatively impacting the entry-level storage segment throughout 2015, says the IDC. Shipments to this SMB-focused segment were down 2.5% year-over-year in 2015.

PELS offerings with higher capacity points continued to gain market share as fierce price competition made these products more affordable. In the 3.5" segment, 3-5TB drives continued to take share from 1-2TB offerings and accounted for 51.5% of units shipped. In the 2.5" space, 500GB and 1TB offerings still dominated the market. However, offerings of 2-4TB managed to grow their shares over the past two years.

HDD vendors continued to dominate the personal storage segment (80% of unit share) and gained shipment share in the entry-level segment (26% of unit share).
Both HDD and mainstream non-HDD players have been struggling in the PELS market, says the research firm. Western Digital acquired SanDisk to gain more opportunities in the SSD market. Toshiba has been experiencing shipment decline and will have to go through restructuring to better position its HDD business.
Smaller vendors like Imation discontinued its personal storage product line, while Imation acquired Connected Data to move up to the entry-level space.

USB remained the most popular interface in the PELS market, as major players started to roll out offerings with USB Type-C connectors. These offerings are still in the early stages of development, but with speeds comparable to Thunderbolt, these products will potentially create competition with the Thunderbolt offerings.

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