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8-Gigabyte Flash MP3 Player Hits

In a move to expand its systems business, SanDisk Corp. unveiled what the company claims is the world's largest capacity, flash-based MP3 player. The flash-memory product company also cut the prices on its older MP3 player models.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — In a move to expand its systems business, SanDisk Corp. unveiled what the company claims is the world's largest capacity, flash-based MP3 player. The flash-memory product company also cut the prices on its older MP3 player models.

Priced at $249.99, the new Sansa e280 is the latest MP3 player in SanDisk's flagship e200 series. The new 8-gigabyte (GB) device features a microSD expansion slot, allowing expansion to 10-GB of music — or 2,500 songs — with an optional SanDisk 2-GB microSD card.

In conjunction with the rollout, SanDisk (Milpitas, Calif.) has lowered its prices on the entire Sansa e200 line of products, including the existing 2-, 4- and 6-GB models. Current pricing on the Sansa e200 product line includes a 2-GB flash-based player for under $140.

SanDisk competes in the MP3 player market against Apple, Creative, Samsung, among others. Microsoft plans to go head-to-head with Apple for a piece of the portable music device market, but doesn't expect to be an overnight sensation in the field.

Recently, Verizon Wireless unveiled a device that takes mobile phones a step closer in form and function to Apple Computer Inc.'s popular iPod media player.

But SanDisk appears to be going after Apple Computer, the world's largest MP3 player maker. The rapidly growing worldwide market for flash-based and hard disk drive MP3 players will jump from 140 million units in 2005 to 286 million by 2010, according to In-Stat Inc.

SanDisk is looking to boost its share in the business. The dimensions of its Sansa line are 1.7- x 3.5- x 0.5-in. The TFT color screen size for the unit is said to be 1.8-inch.

SanDisk said it provides an open digital rights management system, which allows users to purchase songs or access subscription download services from numerous sources. For instant access to "millions of digital songs," SanDisk said the Sansa e200 series players support Microsoft PlaysForSure technology. It also has a microSD expansion slot for additional memory capacity and supports SanDisk's TrustedFlash content cards.

SanDisk is not known as a major player in the MP3 market. The company, a leader in flash-memory subsystems for imaging and audio storage, is acquiring one of its largest solid-state memory competitors, Msystems Ltd. of Israel, in a stock transaction worth approximately $1.35 billion.

SanDisk has been hit with a series of lawsuits over alleged infringement of MPEG audio patents held by Philips, France Telecom and others (see Aug. 11 story). In addition, SanDisk's R&D center in Tefen, northern Israel, is getting back to normal operation after being hit by katyusha rockets about three weeks ago.

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