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Dell bids adieu to hard-drive music players

Pocket DJs never made headway against the iPod, so PC maker is focusing on flash-memory music players instead.

Dell is dropping high-capacity music players from its roster of consumer electronics products, a company spokesman confirmed Monday.

The company will, however, continue to offer its 512MB flash player.

Dell will discontinue the 5GB Pocket DJ, 20GB Dell DJ20 and 30GB Dell DJ30 music players, said Liem Nguyen, a Dell spokesman. The company has decided to focus on the as a way of streamlining its MP3 products, he said.

Like other hardware makers, Dell has been unable to compete with Apple Computer's success in the MP3 player market. Several have tried--notably Sony, Samsung and Creative Labs--but none have hit on a combination of hardware and software as winning as Apple's wildly popular iPod and iTunes, said Richard Doherty, principal analyst at The Envisioneering Group.

"If there were 100 million music players shipping a year, which we think will happen by the end of the decade, people might go with Dell," Doherty said. But products like the Dell DJ got lost in a sea of iPods and other competitors. "Dell never broke out of the 'everybody else' category," he said.

Dell launched the DJ Ditty last September. The basic player costs $99, and special bundles with armbands, FM radios and protective cases are also available. The DJ Ditty uses flash memory rather than small hard drives to store songs, making it more durable and suitable for exercising.

PC companies have had mixed results in their push to enter the consumer electronics market. Dell and Hewlett-Packard have had the most success selling digital televisions, but have not translated that accomplishment into musical harmony. At one point, Dell attempted to compete with the iTunes store through a partnership with Musicmatch, but it has not made significant headway against Apple in the two years since. It still bundles the Musicmatch software with some of its PCs, but downplays the store.