SanDisk to Challenge iPod With Large-Screened MP3 Player

SanDisk Corp. (SNDK) introduced its first portable digital music player with a large screen on Monday, the latest challenge to Apple Computer Inc.'s (AAPL) market-dominating iPod.

SanDisk, which a year ago vowed to chip away at iPod's share of the digital music player market, unveiled the "Sansa View" at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The player, which SanDisk say will hold 33 video hours or 2,000 songs, boasts a 4-inch screen similar in size to Apple's video iPod and comes with 8 megabytes of flash memory.

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The device, which would compete with Apple's video iPod, also has a flash memory expansion slot so a user can slide in a memory card holding additional music or videos.

Retailing for about $300, the 8 gigabyte Sansa View is expected to be available at retailers in the United States in the first quarter, with Canada and Europe to follow in the second quarter.

Hoping to lure shoppers looking for an alternative to the ubiquitous iPod, SanDisk has won over many consumers with its sleek Sansa line of digital players.

But, like rival consumer electronics makers Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Sony Corp. (SNE), the company has found it hard to gain ground against the iPod.

Apple has sold more than 70 million iPods since the product's introduction in October 2001, and the devices now command more than a 70 percent share of the U.S. market for MP3 players, as they are also known.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has also jumped into the digital player market with its Zune device, which the world's biggest software maker introduced late last year. Even with its deep pockets, Microsoft has acknowledged it may take years for the Zune to really make inroads.

Apple does not attend the biggest U.S. consumer electronics show, where the company's rivals are showcasing alternatives they say are bigger, better and less expensive than the iPod. But all eyes will turn to Apple and its chief executive, Steve Jobs, when the Macworld show opens on Monday in San Francisco.