Market research firm In-Stat said the market for hard drive and flash-based digital music players reached US$4.5 billion in 2005, a 200 percent increase over 2003. The company also said that Apple is the leader in worldwide portable audio players, with an estimated 30.2 percent of the combined market.
Forces driving the growth of the market include falling prices, the increased availability of legitimate music download services like Apple's iTunes Music Store, smaller hard disk drives and increased flash memory capacities, according to the report.
In-Stat indicated that 1GB or larger flash-based players will represent just over 20 percent of the worldwide flash digital music player market by the end of this year. And its survey data shows that penetration of digital audio players in the U.S. market has increased from 16 percent in 2001 to 25 percent in 2005.
In-Stat said the market will grow dramatically in the next few years, estimating that consumers will buy more than 104 million units by 2009, up from 27.8 million in 2004.
The figures are part of a report entitled "Portable Digital Audio Players: Moving to the Beat of a Booming Market."