iPods, TVs and other electronics gadgets have driven consumer electronic sales in Europe up 18 per cent year-on-year, new research claims.

Researchers at GfK see no sign of decline as converged technologies drive gadget sales – Europe's consumer electronics industry will be worth €44 billion this year alone, they say.

With a 25 per cent share of the market, the UK is driving European demand for consumer electronics, the research shows. Germany is close behind, with 19 per cent of the overall market, followed by France with 17 per cent.

Driven by demand for iPods and other media players, sales of portable audio accessories were up 9 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2006.

Apple's iPod with video benefits, too. Sales of video and audio players with this technology climbed in terms of volume by 28 per cent and in terms of value by 30 per cent.

The researchers expect that 37 million MP3 players will "probably" be sold this year.

It's good news for Apple, but also for companies supplying products for iPods and other devices. Rising sales in portable audio devices drove growth in the accessories market: headphone sales climbed 44 per cent, for example.

Another side effect of the switch to digital is a rise in demand for storage solutions, the research confirms. USB memory stick sales leapt 22 per cent in the first half of the year while memory card demand grew 10 per cent.

TVs remain the strongest growth driver in consumer electronics and sales were up 35 per cent on the first half of 2005, partially due to World Cup TV upgrades.

LCD TV sales climbed 125 per cent and plasma TV sales were up 39 per cent, the researchers said, observing a trend favouring large-screen TVs.

Consumers are switching away from DVD players in favour of DVD recorders, the research reveals. Demand for the latter is up 56 per cent. One in three buyers chose a recorder with a 160GB hard drive. GfK predicts 8.2 million DVD recorders will be sold this year.

Sat-nav systems are also this season's flavour, helping drive car electronics sales up 45 per cent, GfK claims.