Seagate yesterday launched a 6 GByte hard drive that is targeted at the music player market and expands its smallest form-factor hard drive family. The hard drive is of the 1-inch variety, making it very suitable for compact music players.

Apple recently announced that they were to use a new 6 GByte 1-inch drive from Hitachi in their iPod mini, so it was not going to be long before Seagate announced its own offering. Seagate do not actually supply to Apple, but they supply to just about everyone else in this market. Prior to this, Seagate's 1-inch drives had been in 2.5 and 5 GByte capacities. The new drive should start to appear in devices from Creative, Olympus, Rio, Sanyo, and Virgin.

The 1-inch drive market seems ready to expand, with many other hard drive makers getting in on the act.

Next to Seagate and Hitachi, other firms such as Western Digital are entering the 1-inch harddrive market and create a highly competitive market for all players. Given the market opportunity and growth, we would expect pricing of the drives to drop and capacities to increase faster in 2005 than in the past twelve months. Hitachi for example announced at CES that it will hit the 8 or 10 GByte mark later this year. Price drops are likely to be limited mainly to the retail market, where most manufacturers still have space to move down from the current $200-$250 price point for 5 GByte drives.