As the market for compressed audio players such as MP3 expands, more and more devices are making their way onto retail shelves.
Figures from market research firm IDC indicate worldwide MP3 shipments will approach 26 million in 2005, with a compound annual growth rate of 51 per cent. According to IDC, the market is set to grow significantly beyond portable MP3 units to more innovative products.
Philips is the latest vendor to enter into the MP3 fray, announcing an MP3-CD player that is capable of playing 8-centimetre CDs.
The vendor claims the new device - the eXpandium EXP 401, which is expected to hit retail shelves early next year - will be the world's smallest player of its kind. Instead of playing traditional 12-centimetre discs, the EXP 401 will take smaller CDs capable of holding more than three hours of compressed digital audio tracks in formats such as MP3, UDF and AAC. A blank disc can store up to 200MB of music.
The smaller CDs use the same technology as traditional 12-centimetre discs, so existing hardware can be used.
According to IDC, MP3 decoding capabilities are increasingly being added into traditional portable CD players. Unfettered by the costs of flash memory products, this market will outship basic portable compressed audio players in the US by 2003.
The devices have traditionally enjoyed far more success in the US than in other parts of the world. Although IDC predicts this will continue, non-US markets will continue to gain momentum, driven largely by the penetration of the PC.