It’s said that in electronics, smaller is always better. If that’s the case, the iPod may have found a challenger for portable music-playing supremacy.

Apple’s wildly successful iPod MP3 player announced that it recently shipped its 30 millionth unit since the first iPod was sold in November 2001. In the three-month period ending Sept. 30, Apple reported selling 6.45 million iPods. The recent addition of the super-slim iPod Nano and the video-capable fifth generation iPod are expected to be among the top sellers during the holiday shopping season.

Enter the mobiBLU.

While Japanese-based mobiBLU can’t match iPod sales, it has upended Apple in the battle to produce the smallest MP3 player. The DAH-1500i, nicknamed "The Cube," is less than 1 cubic inch and weighs 0.6 oz.

The smallest Apple product, the iPod Shuffle, is a stick-shaped player about 3 inches in length and weighs 0.78 oz.

Just like the iPod Shuffle, the Cube comes in 512KB and 1GB editions, which respectively add up to about 120 and 240 songs. Both use flash memory rather than a hard drive, which allows for a smaller product.

In August, PC Magazine’s Web site called the Cube "the smallest, most impressively full-featured flash player we’ve seen yet."

The Cube features an FM radio receiver and voice-recording capabilities, can be used as a portable USB drive and comes in six colors. It has no ports other than the headphone jack, which is used to connect to computers and to charge the battery as well as to listen (the flip side is that one can’t listen to the Cube while charging it).

The battery life is 8-10 hours, falling short of the iPod Shuffle’s 12-hour capability.

More here.