8GB iPod Mini Coming Soon?

Seagate on Wednesday announced the first 8 gigabyte 1-inch drive for portable media players, opening the door for a higher capacity iPod Mini. Apple moved the Mini to the same Seagate ST1 drive in its 6GB form in February, introducing new colors and an improved battery life of 18 hours.

Apple is expected to transition the iPod Mini to a color screen later this year - a move that could also usher in the storage bump. However, iPod software updates are likely to arrive this summer before a hardware refresh.

Manufacturers such as Seagate have endeavored to boost capacity of shrinking hard drives to take advantage of the growing popularity of digital media players. In the first quarter of 2005, Apple reported shipping 5.3 million iPods.

Seagate calls this emerging digital lifestyle trend the "terabyte life," referring to the future of storage counted in terabytes - not gigabytes. As part of this change, Seagate launched Wednesday its largest hard drive -- at 500GB -- designed for digital video recorders such as TiVo.

"Seagate's unique, unflagging ability to meet the demands of both the consumer electronics and traditional computing markets is why we are the industry's leading seller of hard drives and why some of the biggest brands in the world partner with Seagate," said company CEO Bill Watkins.

Seagate also said Wednesday it is planning to introduce an 8GB CompactFlash Photo Hard Drive. The drive will work with existing digital cameras that support Compact Flash, and will be sold directly at retail outlets.

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