Toshiba is to double production of its PC Card-size 1.8in hard disc drive and is considering entering the 1in drive market, citing a strong demand for the small drives from makers of portable digital electronics devices.
"Most of the demand comes from the mobile audio players and mini-type personal computers," said Midori Suzuki, a spokeswoman for Toshiba in Tokyo.
As a result, the company recently shipped three million 1.8in drives, and intends to raise monthly production to 600,000 units a month by March 2004. The drive, which is small enough to be fitted into a PC Card form factor, is used in devices such as Apple Computer's iPod.
Toshiba also said it is considering the production of 1in drives. Such drives are small enough to be encased in a CompactFlash card form factor.
That market is dominated by the Microdrive, which is produced by Hitachi after it purchased IBM's disc drive business earlier this year, although there are several other competitors including China's GS Magicstor, which has recently begun marketing its products.
Toshiba already produces versions of the 1.8in drive in 5Gbyte, 10Gbyte, 15Gbyte, 20Gbyte, 30Gbyte and 40Gbyte capacities and sees more demand at the higher end, although it believes lower capacity products are still attracting some attention because of their lower cost.
Much of the extra production will be outsourced to Matsushita Kotobuki Electronics Industries.
Martyn Williams writes for IDG News Service