Hitachi will unveil a 6GB slim-type drive, suitable for use in an iPod mini, in autumn this year.

Interviewed by DigiTimes, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies vice president and general manager for the Asia-Pacific region Pete Andreyev revealed the plan.

On the market for music players, he said: "MP3 players should offer a real growth potential, starting from the second half of this year". Hitachi manufactures the drives used in Apple's phenomenally successful iPod mini.

With the recent news that Motorola will ship a mobile phone capable of supporting the iTunes Music Store, Andreyev's next words may presage new opportunities, he said: "Market applications in the smartphone and digital video system markets will likely take over the mainstream spot in 2005".

He anticipates that "slim-type drive shipments" will rise 500 per cent year-on-year to 5 million units in 2004. "Hitachi expects it will ship four million units this year, including slim-type drives for MP3 players, which should reach around three million units by year-end," he said.