Hitachi to Boost Mini Hard Drive Production

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST) said Tuesday it will "more than double" its production of 1-inch and 1.8-inch hard disk drives this year to meet demand from digital media device makers like Apple Computer.

Hitachi said it plans on doubling production of its one-inch Microdrive and the recently announced iMikeyi drive that will ship later this year in 8 and 10 gigabyte models.

The company also said it will "triple production" of its 1.8-inch Travelstar drive, used in other MP3 music players. The company did not give specifics on how many hard drives it plans to produce this year, but did say it shipped 3.9 million 1-inch drives in 2004.

HGST is the worldis second-largest maker of hard disk drives behind Seagate. According to IDC, Hitachi was in first place in total hard drives shipped for consumer electronic (CE) devices in the fourth-quarter of 2004 and in second place for the full year. Hitachi led the final quarter of year with 24.7% of the CE segment and finished the year with 19.8%.

Hitachi says it will "more than double" production of the 6GB Microdrive.

Last week, Hitachi announced its new 6GB Microdrive drive would be 60% less in price, with each drive retailing for US$299. The 4 GB version of the Microdrive 3K6 will be offered at $199, representing a 60% price decrease.

Demand for miniature hard drives is outstripping supply and their popularity is only in its infancy, industry experts report. As consumers demand smaller, more portable electronics -- such as portable music players, cellular phones, digital video and still cameras -- will need more storage space and miniature hard drives will be in high demand.

"As portable music players and digital cameras become more popular, youire going to find these 1-inch drives in more of these devices," Mike Paxton, senior analyst at In-Stat/MDR, told The Mac Observer. "As demand escalates, prices of these drives will fall and that price reduction will be passed on to consumers by companies like Creative, Apple and Toshiba."