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Briefly: 10GB 1-inch mini drives, Playboy for iPod Photo, more...

iPod mini drives to approach 10GB in \'05

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies is planning to at least double the capacity of its 1-inch Microdrive hard-disk drive within this year, the company said during this week\'s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) taking place in Las Vegas.

Until recently (see Seagate now supplying Apple with 5GB microdrives) Hitachi was believed to be the sole purveyor of 1-inch drives for Apple\'s popular iPod mini.

\"At present Hitachi\'s most capacious Microdrive can hold 4GB of data, but the new drives, due in the second half of this year, will be able to hold between 8GB and 10GB, said Bill Healy, senior vice president of product strategy and marketing at HGST.\"

In addition to offering more storage space, Healy noted that the drives will also occupy about 20 percent less volume than current models. According to PCWorld, one of the biggest space savings will come from replacing the Compact Flash interface with a ZIF (zero insertion force) connector.

Playboy propositions iPod Photo

In somewhat related news, CNN Money is carrying a story about Playboy magazine offering galleries of photographs that can be viewed on digital media players such as the Apple iPod. The adult magazine said it will offer galleries of both non-nude and nude models, using the name \"iBod.\"

\"The overwhelming response we have received for this feature supports our theory that iPod Photo users are a technologically advanced group with a significant interest in enjoying beautiful Playboy images,\" said John D. Thomas, editor of Playboy.com.

The gallery of 25 non-nude photos will reportedly be available for download exclusively from the Playboy website to members of the publication\'s \"Cyber Club,\" which charges a monthly fee.

Goldman Sachs estimates 4.5 million iPods sold in Q1 \'04

According to MacNN, Goldman Sachs has raised its estimates on Apple, saying that strong iPod shipments--estimating 4.5 million units shipped in the December quarter—will drive strong first quarter earnings from Apple, which are due next week.

The firm also cited strength in Apple\'s other consumer offerings as well as higher traffic and close rates at Apple\'s retail stores. However, Goldman cautioned investors until after Macworld Expo and maintained an \"in-line\" rating on the company: \"While we remain extremely positive about Apple\'s fundamentals and continue to look for entry points, we think that investors would be better served to wait until after Macworld and Apple\'s earnings when the stock\'s 2005 outlook can be judged in a more settled light.\"

Goldman raised Apple\'s fiscal 2005 earnings estimates to $1.62 per share from $1.49, and raised the fiscal 2006 estimate to $2.02 from $1.84. Goldman\'s first-quarter earnings estimates were raised to 51 cents per share on revenue of $3.197 billion--up from earnings of 46 cents per share on revenue of $3.064 billion.