Hitachi to boost production of iPod disk drive

The six-week waiting list to get a popular iPod Mini digital music player from Apple Computer is likely to get shorter by the end of the year. Hitachi's hard disk drive unit said Sunday that it will spend about $200 million to double the disk drive output of its Thailand factory, including the 1-inch, 4GB disk drives that are found in the iPod Mini. Production of Hitachi Global Storage Technologies' Microdrive will rise to about 2 million units per quarter by the end of the year, from 200,000 in the first three months of this year, said John Osterhout, who manages Hitachi GST's Microdrive program.

In March, Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple said it would delay global sales of the iPod Mini because it couldn't get enough of the hard drives to meet U.S. demand, which had then surpassed supply through June. Apple now plans to sell iPod outside the United States starting in July. Apple's online store shows an approximate six-week wait for one of the popular music players, which come in five metallic colors. They cost $249 each and hold the equivalent of about 1,000 songs. Osterhout said the market for small drives, such as its 1-inch Microdrive and the 1.8-inch Toshiba drive accelerated when Apple introduced the original iPod in October 2001. The original iPod uses a Toshiba 1.8-inch drive. "The category took off when Apple introduced the original iPod," Osterhout said in a telephone interview.

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