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6/4/2007
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Flash Memory Use Expected To Soar In Portable Media Players

Anticipated declines in cost, as well as functional advantages over hard disk drives, should drive increased usage, says analyst.

The use of flash memory within portable media players is expected to soar over the next few years, while the number of devices with alternative hard disk drives is expected to increase at a more moderate rate, a market research firm said Monday.

The number of flash-equipped portable media players is expected to rise to 150.2 million units by 2011, or more than 25 times the 5.9 million units that shipped in 2006, iSuppli said. The number of flash-equipped units expected to ship this year is 54.8 million. iSuppli defines a portable media player as an MP3 player capable of video playback and equipped with a suitable color display.

Meanwhile, shipments of portable media players equipped with hard disk drives are forecast to increase to only 35.3 million units in 2011 from 29.3 million units this year.

The cost of NAND flash is dropping to where MP3 players can add enough capacity to support video content, iSuppli analyst Chris Crott said in a statement. The average cost of flash memory is expected to decline by more than 47% per year through 2010.

Advantages of flash memory over hard disk drives include longer battery life, smaller size, more flexible form factors, and a wider variety of capacities. In addition, flash is less prone to failure. Cost, however, remains the downside.

Nevertheless, the use of flash memory is expected to increase dramatically, not just in portable media players, but also in notebooks, according to iSuppli.

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