The analysts at iSuppli expect the iPod-dominated market for media and music players to double between 2005 and 2010.

New research from the company confirms these devices now comprise the fastest-growing segments of the consumer electronics industry today.

iSuppli expects unit shipments will rise to 268.6 million units in 2011, expanding at a an annual 13 per cent growth rate from 128.7 million units in 2005. Shipments will reach 216.9 million units this year, they explained.

 “A major driving factor behind this growth is the fact that PMP/MP3 players take advantage of the Internet more than other consumer electronic devices, giving users the ability to quickly and easily sample, acquire and share media,” said Chris Crotty, senior analyst for consumer electronics at iSuppli. “Other reasons for the rapid market expansion include the expanding catalogue of available content and component cost reductions that are making the players more affordable for consumers.”

The analysts note a broadband-fuelled change in consumer demand – the MySpace and YouTube generation want video, as such iSuppli expects sales of multimedia devices to grow fastert than those of MP3 players.

The total number of Internet households and broadband subscribers worldwide will grow to 883 million and 507 million respectively by 2011, iSuppli predicts.

The worldwide broadband digital paid video market will expand to $4.5 billion in 2010, up from a meager $300 million in 2006. Meanwhile, iSuppli forecasts the broadband music market will grow to $5 billion in revenue by 2010, up from $1.6 billion in 2006.

Market challenges include the neerd to make devices more robust and eduring, battery life, and stronger competition from media-capable mobile phones.