The six-week waiting list to get an iPod Mini digital-music player from Apple Computer Inc. is likely to get shorter by the end of the year.

The six-week waiting list to get an iPod Mini digital-music player from Apple Computer Inc. is likely to get shorter by the end of the year.

Hitachi Ltd's hard disk drive unit said yesterday (May 16) that it will spend about $200 million to double the disk-drive output of its Thailand factory, including the 1-inch, 4-gigabyte disk drives that are found in the iPod Mini.

Production of Hitachi Global Storage Technologies' Microdrive will rise to about 2 million units per quarter by the end of the year, from 200,000 in the first three months of this year, said John Osterhout, who manages Hitachi GST's Microdrive program.

In March, Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple said it would delay global sales of the iPod Mini because it couldn't get enough of the hard drives to meet U.S. demand, which had then surpassed supply through June. Apple now plans to sell iPod outside the United States starting in July.

Apple's online store shows an approximate six-week wait for one of the popular music players, which come in five metallic colors. They cost $249 each, and the 4-gigabyte hard drive holds the equivalent of about 1,000 songs.

Osterhout said the market for small drives, such as its 1-inch Microdrive and the 1.8-inch Toshiba Corp. drive accelerated when Apple introduced the original iPod in October 2001. The original iPod uses a Toshiba 1.8-inch drive.

Hitachi GST's Microdrive is also used in Creative Technology Ltd's Nomad MuVo MP3 digital music player.

--Reuters