I copied around 250 albums from a friend of mine some weeks ago. I just hooked up his USB-harddrive and copied the data to my laptop. During the latest months I have been thinking a lot about how increased storage capacity will change the landscape for private copying in the coming years.

Everyone knows about Moores Law, but have you heard of Kryders Law? Scientific American interviewed Mark Kryder in 2005, an important person in the development of harddrive technology. He said: “Who would have predicted the success of hand-held digital audio players? We completely missed seeing the iPod coming. Today the density of information we can get on a hard drive is much more important to enabling new applications than advances in semiconductors.”

So, here it comes, a forecast of increased storage capacity on regular harddrives. The calculation is based on average capacity of regular consumer harddrives released during the latest ten years and extrapolated for the coming years.

1998: 8 GB
1999: 15 GB
2000: 30 GB
2001: 55 GB
2002: 100 GB
2003: 175 GB
2004: 250 GB
2005: 450 GB
2006: 600 GB
2007: 900 GB
2008: 1,5 TB
2009: 2,5 TB
2010: 4,5 TB
2011: 7 TB
2012: 12 TB
2013: 20 TB
2014: 35 TB
2015: 60 TB
2016: 100 TB
2017: 175 TB
2018: 320 TB

An average music file is around 5-6 megabytes today. If you buy a new harddrive during 2008 you can probably store around 200 000 music files on that drive. The increase in storage capacity is exponential meaning that in just 5 years a harddrive can store 4 million songs and in the year 2018 the capacity will be around 64 million songs.

DAP’s (Digital Audio Players) has the same growth in capacity, but have 20-25% less space in total. In the year 2018 a regular iPod will most likely be able to store around 6-7 million songs, and just a couple of years after that a DAP might hold most of the music that has ever been published.

The Celestial Jukebox in our hands.

I believe this is a “wild card” that most people in the music industry is not seeing at all. How will this developmnent affect private copying? When music fans can say: “I have all the music from 1950-2010, do you want to copy?” What kind of business models will be viable in such a reality?

Well, ten years from now we will see.

I am currently writing an academic paper on this issue with the working name: “Effects on the Music Industry as a Result of Radically Increased Storage Capacity”.