Apple's iPod sold nearly a third of all digital music players worldwide in 2004, according to analysts.

Market research firm In-Stat found that Apple captured a market share of more than 30 per cent in 2004. Apple says it sold 8.4 million iPods in that period so In-Stat calculates that of the 27.8 million-unit market, Apple's iPod product line achieved a 30.2 per cent share.

In-Stat analyst Stephanie Guza believes that the market share of the iPod climbed above the 30.2 per cent level in the first half of 2005. According to Guza, Apple's advantage is still the iPod brand. She said: "What you see is a 'Kleenex' effect. The iPod name is anonymous for portable player."

Guza said that the 2004 overall digital audio player market reached a volume of $4.5 billion - an increase of more than 200 per cent over 2003 - with flash-based models driving unit sales, but more expensive hard drive players driving revenues, reports Tom's Hardware Guide.

Guza said: "Increasing demand for Flash-players can be attributed to lower price points for Flash memory. For 2005, In-Stat expects that 1GB capacity or greater Flash MP3 players will represent just over 20 per cent of all Flash-based MP3 player shipments globally.