Hard drive capacities are set to climb exponentially in personal computers shipping by 2007, analyst TrendFocus has predicted.

TrendFocus managing director Mark Geenen expects drives with capacities from 500-600GB to ship as standard, with notebooks equipped with 300GB drives. Meanwhile the drives included in portable devices, such as mobile phones will commonly hold 20GB, the company said.

Speaking at a briefing organized by the International Disk Drive Equipment and Materials Association (IDEMA) in Australia on Monday, Geenen said there were no serious competitors to current hard-disk technology for cost-effective data storage.

"The long-term demand (for storage) is there and this is a historic opportunity for our industry," he said. "The industry is poised for very impressive growth over the next few years."

Optical storage has been around a long time without making any major impact and flash memory is still too expensive, according to Geenen. Other storage technologies are yet to be commercialized – heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) systems will not be available until 2006 and millipede systems until 2007 or 2008, Geenen said.

The most immediate advance in storage technology is the move to perpendicular storage of data on hard disks, which will begin to appear later this year, Geenen said.

Perpendicular storage is an evolutionary technology that can be produced using existing production lines. It can provide storage capacities of up to 1Tbit per square inch, which is equivalent to storing 1TB on a single 3.5-inch disk platter – almost 10 times as much as today's standard longitudinal storage systems.

The disk-drive industry will deliver over 300 million hard drives of all kinds in 2004, 16 per cent up on the 261 million drives shipped in 2003, Geenen said.