Analysts believe that online music services and portable MP3-player sales are poised for massive market growth, according to In-Stat/MDR.

The analysts believe that worldwide portable digital-music player sales will grow from "about 6.8 million in 2002 to over 36 million in 2007". Hard disk drive-based players, such as Apple's iPod, will "experience the highest growth rate", the analysts stated in a recent report.,

Online music-download services still need to be refined, according to analyst Cindy Wolf: "Although subscription services are offering some of what consumers are asking for (streaming, downloading, burning), issues related to service bundling, pricing and regulations remain. These services will need to attract more subscribers in the coming year in order to continue to be a viable option for consumers." She believes increased broadband adoption rates will help drive such services forward.

The analyst firm's annual survey of US homes found that the percentage of respondents owning digital audio players increased from 15.5 per cent in 2001 to 20.3 per cent in 2002. SonicBlue leads in terms of units shipped.

The analysts have returned no comment yet regarding Apple's market share in the sector.