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More MP3-CD, Hard-Drive Portables Due

Suppliers will turn increasingly to 3-inch and 5-inch MP3-CD portables and portable battery-powered hard drives to capture their share of the Internet audio portable business, but companies won’t abandon the solid-state portable market despite profitability challenges.

At CES, suppliers will upgrade the feature packages and storage capacity of solid-state music portables, whose unit growth was described by some manufacturers as slowing or going negative because of accelerating sales of MP3-CD portables and aggressive pricing on hard-drive portables.

Some suppliers will expand embedded memory to 128MB from 64MB, and at least two suppliers will launch their first multicodec solid-state models.

Also at CES:

  • At least two companies will join RCA in showing their first portable MP3 hard drives.
  • mp3PRO will appear in the first solid-state portables.
  • And at least one more company will launch its first 3-inch MP3-CD portable, joining Philips, Compaq, Imation and Teac’s data-storage division in this segment.