How the iPod could leave rivals in the dust
All the buzz this week is about SanDisk's new Sansa MP3 player, which offers twice the storage for the same price as Apple's iPod Nano. It's not surprising SanDisk can offer such a good price, since unlike Apple, it makes its own flash memory and can pass the savings on directly to gadget buyers. is even asking whether Apple has lost its touch, since it hasn't brought out a new iPod model since February.

But Apple's secret with the iPod has always been to jump on the latest technology and package it into a gorgeous device. Back in 2001, with the first iPod, that was a high-capacity, compact hard drive. With last year's introduction of the Nano, Apple adopted flash memory. Now, writes Sean Alexander in his Addicted to Digital Media blog, Apple could be set to take another technological leap, thanks to a $500 million investment it made last November in an Intel-Micron flash-memory joint venture.

Later this year, the joint venture, IM Flash Technology, is set to start making memory chips with unprecedently small circuits, which means more flash memory bang for Apple's buck. (In his blog post, Alexander errs in saying that SanDisk is making chips ten times the size of IM Flash's, but IM's will still be smaller than SanDisk's current line.) So Apple may just be waiting until it can counter SanDisk with even more powerful chips to put inside its iPods. This battle is far from over -- but it will all come down to the chips.
Posted by Owen Thomas 10:51 AM 5 Comments comment | Add a Comment

Actually, Sandisk/Toshiba has the smallest "chips" with highest density per mm squared area today, and will tomorrow. This is due partly because of aggressive line process shrink, but also because Sandisk is the inventor of MLC technology...allowing for double the memory capacity in a single cell. This is one reason why no one else has a 2GB microSD card in the market but Sandisk. No stacking is allowed at that level form factor.

IM Flash is playing catchup and will continue to for at least 3 more years.
Posted By Eugene Auh Kennett Square, PA : 1:24 PM  

Instead of belittling a very talented weblog writer, why not converse with him privately of the error? Why do journalists working for major companies always feel the need to belittle bloggers?

After all Owen, you were unable to do much other than paraphrase the story published by Sean Alexander.
Posted By Brad, Columbus, Ohio : 2:03 PM  

Apple is great at marketing it's products, and in terms to accessories to the Ipod, they are unbeatable. My issue is with their Itunes. I refuse to be enslaved by their format and as a result will not buy their player. Throw in a built-in FM tuner and user replaceable battery, the Sansa looks like a real winner (oh, and a slot to add additional memory). The question is, can Sansa overcome the Apple marketing machine
Posted By Steve, Graham Washington : 2:31 PM  

i was not surprised about the comment on the cnn news about ipod leave the rival in the dust. my view on ipodis going to do well among all other music players.
Posted By davy madison tn : 3:36 PM  

That article was dumb. New Ipods get released later in the fall, that's it. Apple is still selling lots of ipod nanos. It's not like Sandisk offered anything new - it was already cheaper. When Ipod comes out in the next couple of months, it will blow everything away again, and then it will be months before anyone catches up.

Apple is just warming up. They have a solid foundation, and several growth areas that are can't miss opportunities: iphone, video touch-screen, on-demand video appliance.
Posted By mike w., rochester,ny : 1:48 PM  

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