SanDisk Challenges The iPod With Its Sansa MP3 Player (SNDK, AAPL)

Includes: AAPL, WDC

SanDisk -- whose stock just doesn't stop climbing -- goes head-to-head with Apple with this new product, unveiled at CES: The Sansa e200 MP3 player, due to ship in March, is an iPod Nano clone with 2-6GB of memory, plus FM reception, FM recording, a removable, rechargeable Li-ion battery, and compatibility with Windows-based music subscription 'To Go' services.

The SanDisk press release makes a point of noting that the Sansa's 'distinctive, high-strength and lightweight back cover is made with an advanced Titanium alloy from Liquidmetal® Technologies that is stronger than steel and highly resistant to scratches and wear.' Wonder what inspired that?

With sleek styling in place, the key question here is what kind of marketing effort SanDisk can put behind this player. Displacing Apple in the iPod market, even partially, will require a unique, clever, and (probably) expensive strategy -- regardless of the quality of the product.

The Sansa is the second significant product launch for SanDisk at CES this year -- their smart USB drives for gaming was the other.

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