Toshiba – who manufactures the hard drives used inside Apple's iPod MP3 player – has chosen to take its own stab at the burgeoning music device market.

The company has announced a new hard disk-based device that is smaller and lighter than Apple's own MP3 player, dubbed the Gigabeat MEG200J (G20). This device ships in Japan this October and offers a 20GB capacity with support for MP3, WAV and Windows Media Audio.

Company sources told Macworld UK this morning: "Yes, Toshiba Storage Services Division manufactures the drives used in the new player." This division also manufactures those drives used in Apple's iPod.

This news clearly shows the increasing levels of competition within this new market sector, as online brands such as Microsoft, Real Networks and Roxio's Napster line up to try to achieve dominance in the digital download arena, while consumer electronic companies develop and release products designed to take a chunk of the MP3 device market.

Toshiba's device measures 89.5-x-76.5-x-12.7 millimetres for total cubic volume of 87 cubic centimeters (cc). Apple's 15GB and 30GB iPods have cubic volumes of 100cc and 120cc respectively. It weighs 138g, compared to 168g and 176g for Apple's iPods. Controls are accessed through a small monochrome flat-panel display and battery life is a claimed 11 hours. It connects using USB 2.0, and is only compatible with Windows 98 second edition or higher.

The company will consider selling the product internationally if it sells well in Japan.

Apple introduced the iPod in October 2001. It first updated the product nine months later in July 2002. Nine months later, Apple once again upgraded the product, introducing the current range in April 2003.