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MP3 players still favor flash over HDD

Posted: 22 Nov 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MP3 player? HDD? flash? LCD? TFT LCD?

Flash-based models will continue to dominate over HDDs in the MP3 player arena in the next couple of years, according to a recent report from Global Sources. Companies that produce both flash and HDD units allocate about 20 percent or less of their output to hard drive types.

Mainstream flash-based products offer 128Mbyte to 2Gbyte models while available HDD-based players deliver 20Gbyte up to 60Gbyte versions, according to the China Sourcing Report: MP3 Players. At present, flash MP3 players with 8GByte up to 10Gbyte capacity are being developed.

The emerging design trend for MP3 players is toward larger screens and more defined display types, the report found. Makers adopt dot-matrix LCD, TFT LCD, LTPS LCD, monochrome OLED and two-color-OLED as main displays. Display size ranges from 0.6- to 3.5inch. Meanwhile, smaller form factors and multifunction designs continue to be popular. Forecast points to the availability of units integrated with GPS and Wi-Fi next year.

Critical issues
Meanwhile, the IPR issue continues to plague Asian manufacturers of MP3 players. Makers with no licenses, such as that from Sisvel for MP3 and Microsoft for WMA, face legal risks in the European Union. Concurrently, the manufacturers face challenges of reducing production costs to release competitively priced products.

To address these challenges, some makers invest their R&D in vertical integration aiming to develop their own MP3 player components. This action is expected to free the manufacturers from licensing fees as well as reduce their production costs in the long run.

Furthermore, in-house mold making and tooling capabilities are key differentiator processes in MP3 player production, according to the report. Makers with such advantage are more inclined to succeed in the highly competitive market.

The report found that mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan shared 52.21 percent of the global production for MP3 players. Based on 2005 figures, mainland China had 23 percent global production share for MP3 players, followed by Hong Kong with 18 percent and Taiwan with nine percent.

The 54 MP3 manufacturers covered in the report had an aggregate 2005 output of 62.33 million unitsequivalent to about 44.52 percent of global MP3 player shipments, in the same year.

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