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Does new hard drive foreshadow 100GB iPod?

Toshiba's 100GB 1.8-inch hard drives will begin shipping next year, which could lead to larger storage capacity for Apple's music device. Photo: Toshiba's little hard drive

Toshiba on Tuesday announced new 100GB models of a small hard drive, a move that could lead to larger-capacity iPods next year.

A Toshiba representative wouldn't discuss customer plans for the 1.8-inch drive, and Apple Computer declined to comment on the possibility of a boost to the music device, describing it as speculation.

However, Apple uses Toshiba drives in its higher-end iPods and has historically snapped up the latest models. Most recently, it an 80GB version of its video iPod in September.

Toshiba 100GB drive

Products using the new drives are expected to be on sale in the first quarter of 2007, the Toshiba representative said.

The drives, like their predecessors, have two platters for stashing data and use perpendicular recording technology to increase the amount of data that can be stored in a given surface area. They spin at 4,200 revolutions per minute and can transfer 100 megabytes of data per second.

Moving from 80GB to 100GB would mean an iPod capacity increase from roughly 20,000 songs to 25,000 songs, going by Apple's standard measurements.

Just as Apple dominates the digital media player industry, Toshiba dominates the market for the hard drives those gadgets often use. According to research from industry analysts IDC, Toshiba had an 80 percent share of the market in the third quarter of 2006 and has shipped 40 million 1.8-inch drives since they were launched in 2000.