Mobile Technologies Index - article 5

Storage: Quenching the thirst for more

PwC forecasts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35 percent for NAND flash memory, as measured in Megabytes per dollar (MB/$), through 2015, compared to a 76 percent CAGR in 2007-2011.

This forecast means that OEMs in 2015 will be able to install more than three times as much (3.3x) NAND for the same price as they do today. Average flash capacity in high-end handsets is already 22GB, and will grow to 50GB by 2015. These numbers are averages—some smartphones and tablets already offer 64GB. We expect to see some 128GB tablets soon and some 256GB tablets are likely next year.

But what will users do with three-times the storage they have now? Much of it is likely to be used to store more HD video and photos at higher levels of resolution. Image and video capture capabilities are improving (examined in a future article), their resolutions (megapixels) are increasing and the ability and desire of users to share them on social networks is accelerating. Shared content among personal networks will consume more storage. Television ads are already touting the ability to swap music playlists and personal videos between two smartphones by simply placing them next to each other.

Cloud-based applications and storage services, such as those from Amazon, Apple, Google and others, will also factor into mobile use cases and business models. Our analysis of the cloud’s impact on flash memory might seem counterintuitive: we anticipate that cloud-based storage services will actually increase the demand for on-device storage. We expect the two to grow together over the five-year forecast period, although we do not track cloud storage in our Index.

Local storage in the form of NAND flash memory will be a key enabler of what we expect will be a series of new behaviours from a different kind of accelerated sharing on tomorrow’s social networks to the ability to consume all manner of content on the mobile device, whether it is connected or not.

To learn more about whether storage capacities will keep pace with the growth in digital content captured, shared and stored on devices download the full article.

All articles in the 'Mobile innovations forecast' series