A number of largely unrelated events will have the combined effect of moving Apple onto an even faster track in adopting solid state drives instead of spinning hard drives in their devices.
The first and foremost of these is the floods in Thailand which damages a significant portion of the world’s hard drive manufacturing facilities. While solid state drives will continue to be more expensive than hard drives, the price difference, and perhaps more importantly the availability, will continue to be effected by this natural disaster, thus making the use of solid state drives (which are also faster and more durable than spinning hard drives) even more desirable.
A smaller factor is the change in Apple’s relationship with Samsung. Samsung previously was a key supplier of components to Apple. However, Samsung’s entry into the Android Mobile Device market has let to increasing friction between the two companies, and a string of lawsuits in both directions, leading Apple to look for other sources of components previously supplied by Samsung. Screens are one of the key items on this list. But indirectly, hard drives would qualify as well; since Seagate, the company currently rated as the leading hard drive manufacturer in the world, has recently merged it’s hard drive business with Samsung’s. Though this occurred under the Seagate, not the Samsung, name, the relationship is close enough to make Apple uncomfortable.
Next is the changing nature of computers. The shift from a field dominated by desktop machines, to one largely composed of laptops occurred several years ago, but evolution continues, with increasing numbers of tablet devices, smart phones, and thinner laptops. Apple’s MacBook Air has become a winning product line, and the next generation of MacBook Pro laptops may also make the move to a thinner form factor without an optical drive slot. Such ultra-thin laptops need solid state drives to save space, and reduce battery drain, which in turn allow for smaller batteries and further space savings. iPods have also migrated to a solid state drive-only lineup. iPhones and iPads have been solid state since their introduction, and have helped Apple to have such high solid state drive purchasing power that they can negotiate better rates than other competitors, further leveraging their ability to move to an all-solid-state lineup.
The rumors of the demise of Apple’s MacPro towers are greatly exaggerated, but a slimming of the MacBook Pro line could leave the MacPro, iMac, and Mac Mini as the only remaining hard drive-based Apple products. And even these benefit from replacement, or addition, of a solid state drive.
Consider Apple’s history of cutting the cord to older technologies sooner than other manufacturers. They eliminated the floppy drive with the iMac, the optical drive with the MacBook Air, the CRT monitor from the entire product line, and the various ports from their computers long before others could imagine life without them. So don’t be shocked to hear the news, some day in the not-to-distant future, that Apple has eliminated the spinning hard drive from its entire product line.