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Digital devices spark storage growth

Hard-drive shipments for consumer electronics devices are set to escalate, as consumer demand to store favorite TV shows and films heats up.

Hard-drive shipments for consumer electronics devices are set to escalate this year, as consumers choose to store more of their favorite TV shows and films on magnetic hard drives rather than on traditional media.

According to data released Wednesday by market research firm In-Stat/MDR, consumer electronics with integrated hard drives will represent about 7 percent of the total hard-drive market in 2003, nearly double its percentage in 2002. The market for consumer electronics drives is projected to grow from 9.3 million units in 2002 to about 16.7 million units this year.

Computer makers and consumer electronics companies have responded to the trend, releasing devices such as digital music players with integrated hard drives. Apple Computer's iPod is one such device and has sold well. Last month, Gateway released its first portable music player that can be used for digital voice recording, playing MP3 files, and shuttling data between two PCs. Dell also is trying to get a piece of the market with its portable MP3 player.

Meanwhile, hard-drive maker Seagate has unveiled the first consumer electronics drive that uses a new industry standard for data streaming.

"There has been an increased emphasis by storage manufacturers to address, and even formulate, specific strategies to address the consumer electronics market," Cindy Wolf, an analyst at In-Stat/MDR, said in a statement.

DVD players and recorders with integrated hard drives, including digital video recorders (DVRs), also are growing quickly. DVRs, like those used with TiVo's service, let TV viewers record shows and temporarily pause live broadcasts. The devices rely on a continuous stream of data to produce high-quality video. Hard drives configured for PCs aren't as good for video recording applications, partly because error-checking procedures slow down video streaming.

In-Stat/MDR said that while DVRs and portable digital audio players are already popular with storage providers, devices such as PDAs, handheld PCs and digital camcorders represent significant opportunities for them in the coming years.