IDC Expects MP3 Player Sales to Surge

IDC analysts predict that the MP3 player market will jump from the 26.4 million units shipped in 2004 to almost 124 million by 2009. Consumer demand, coupled with dropping flash memory prices and paid online music services, like the iTunes Music Store are behind the drive.

"Demand for portable MP3 players is booming, as more and more consumers get acquainted with their stylish form factors and digital audio functionality," said IDC analyst Susan Kevorkian.

This is good news for Apple, which already controls 80 percent of the digital music market, expected to be worth US$145.4 billion by 2009.

Flash based players, like the iPod nano and iPod shuffle, will continue to be popular, especially as memory capacities increase. IDC speculates that memory sizes will grow to 8GB in 2006, and reach 16GB by the end of 2007.

IDC also thinks that the hard drive based market, which includes the iPod, will show an annual growth rate of 21.5 percent though 2007.

Downloadable video content will also help to drive up demand, and right now Apple is the only company with a viable product in that market. The release of the iPod with video support, and iTunes 6 on October 12, positioned Apple out ahead of its competition.

Although downloadable television programs have been available on the iTunes Music Store since Wednesday, the amount of content is already growing. Disney, Pixar, and ABC all have programming available for $1.99 a show, and more studios are likely to join soon.

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