The explosion in digital content drove the global hard drive industry to record growth in 2005, a report reveals.

Shipments rose by 71 million units that year, according to iSuppli (as reported by DigiTimes). Shipments climbed 23 per cent to reach 376 million units in the largest annual climb the industry has ever seen.

Growth was driven by surging notebook sales and consumer electronics items, such as iPods.

However, as flash memory products achieve higher capacities, speculation grows that hard drives will eventually be supplanted by solid state memory, the report explains.

Seagate consolidated its market-leading position with the acquisition of Maxtor. It grabbed 28.7 per cent market share - far beyond Western Digital's 17.7 per cent at second place.

The analysts predict slower growth for the industry in 2006, anticipating a 14.4 per cent rise on 2005's market size.