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Apple iPad sales slamming hard drive makers

iPad sales blast through the PC roof

Apple sold more than 7.3 million iPads in the last quarter of 2010, for a total of more than 14.7 million in its first three quarters on the market. "The demand has just been amazing and this is off to an incredible start," Peter Oppeneheimer, Apple's chief financial offer, said in yesterday's quarterly earnings conference call.

Hard drive sector problems on the rise

Because the iPad uses flash storage memory similar to the iPhone and iPod touch, it doesn't need to include a conventional mechanical hard drive. Apple began shifting its iPod user base toward flash-based models with the iPad nano, and accelerated the trend with the flagship iPod touch that now makes up half of all iPods sold.

Apple's ecosystem makes its own rain

Because most conventional PC products use hard drives, the growth of iPad at their expense is both depressing hard drive demand and creating excess supply, an issue that threatens to shift production and investment away from hard drive technologies and toward flash RAM storage. In the meantime, Apple also benefits from more favorable component pricing in its devices that continue to use hard drives, including iMacs and most MacBooks, which are differentiated enough from iPad to prevent a cannibalization problem.

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