updated 6/14/2004 3:31:59 PM ET 2004-06-14T19:31:59

Eyeing consumers' voracious appetite for digital media storage, Seagate Technology LLC will soon have a slew of new products to capitalize on the booming demand for mini hard drives.

Seagate, a leading hard-disk maker for computers, plans to unveil Monday its first line of 1-inch disk drives in capacities of 2.5 gigabytes and 5 gigabytes. The firm is incorporated in the Cayman Islands but has headquarters in Scotts Valley, Calif.

The new products include versions for use in portable music or video players and handheld computers; a compact flash card format for digital cameras; and a USB pocketable external drive roughly the size of a hockey puck.

Until recently, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies was the only major supplier of 1-inch disk drives. But the company couldn't keep up with demand for its largest capacity 4-gigabyte Microdrive, which is used in the popular Apple iPod Mini music player and its rival, the Creative MuVo 2.

As a result, Hitachi last month announced plans to expand its Thailand manufacturing facility and increase production of its Microdrives to several million units per quarter, up from 200,000 last quarter.

Companies like Toshiba Corp. and startup Cornice Inc. are also developing small drives that can pack a few gigabytes of digital data.

Seagate's entry will widen the supply doors and likely spur more iPod rivals, said Brian Dexheimer, Seagate's executive vice president of worldwide sales and marketing. Already, five major consumer electronics companies plan to use Seagate's products to introduce hard drive-based music players, he said. He would not name the companies.

The new 1-inch products will be available in the third quarter as part of Seagate's largest ever product portfolio expansion, the company said. Exact prices were not disclosed, but Seagate spokesman John Paulsen said the 5-gigabyte compact flash card and USB external drive will each cost less than $200.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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