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Tuesday, July 26, 2005, 03:00 pm PT (06:00 pm ET)

iPod chip supplier hints at upcoming plans

Following the release of financial results from its second fiscal quarter, PortalPlayer hinted at a few of its forthcoming music player technologies and release dates to analysts and the media.

For its June quarter, iPod chip supplier PortalPlayer announced a profit of $6.3 million, or $0.25 per diluted share, on revenues of $44.6 million. The results rose sharply from its year-ago quarter, in which the company reported a $880,000 loss.

In its announcement, the company hinted at a few plans for the second half of the year.

"We have completed the design win activity for our customers' exciting new models intended to ship in the second half of 2005. In addition, we worked with the supply chain to prepare our operations for significant demand in the second half of the year," said Gary Johnson, president and chief executive officer of PortalPlayer. "During the second quarter, we also accelerated our investment in innovative wireless technologies that we believe will help fuel our growth in 2006 and beyond."

Johnson went on to say that revenues for PortalPlayer's third quarter of 2005 are likely to benefit from new flash-based chip designs. The company currently supplies Apple with controller chips for its hard disk drive (HDD)-based players, while Sigmatel is responsible for the chips inside the flash-based iPod shuffle.

According to a research note released today by American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu, PortalPlayer may have secured a contract with Apple for a 2GB iPod mini that would use flash memory as opposed to a HDD. The analyst believes such a player could debut sometime later this year.

Based on Wu's checks throughout the industry as well as recent comments made by PortalPlayer of a late production ramp in September, the analyst believes new iPods including color iPod minis, higher capacity flash-based iPods, and a video capable iPod will not ship until the October time frame.

Last year Apple held a music-related media event in October to introduce iPods capable of storing and displaying photos. A supporting version of iTunes was also unveiled at the event. It's likely that Apple will follow a similar iPod release schedule this year in order to deliver products that are ripe for the holiday shopping season.

Wu, who covers both Apple and PortalPlayer for AmTech Research, estimates that Apple will ship 7.1 million iPods during PortalPlayer's third fiscal quarter, of which he believes 4 million will be HDD players.