SanDisk is Number 2 in MP3 Player Sales?

By Richard Menta 9/21/05

While reading the USA Today (on paper, not electronic) I came across an article on the iPod and read this quote:

"Apple has 74% of the digital music device market, according to researcher The NPD Group. Closest rival SanDisk has just 6.4%."

SanDisk is number two? Did I miss something? Asleep...no coma, is a better word. Right next to the article is a graph showing Apple and SanDisk followed by Creative, with 3.9%, iRiver with 3.6% and Samsung with 2.6%. The online version of the article does not contain the graph, created by the paper's own Marcy E. Mullins from information supplied by NPD Group for its July measurements. I went to the NPD Group site to see if they had a similar graph. They did, for both the June and July measurments, and they are on the right.

My trip to the NPD site turned out to be more interesting than I thought. Now I have yet to see a SanDisk player in the flesh outside of a store display. While SanDisk has been serving the MP3 player market with flash memory since the Eiger MPman first appeared in 1998, they have only been producing players for a short period of time. This includes the Sansa e100 Series of flash players and the Cruzer Micro MP3 companion, an MP3 adapter for its popular pen drives. SanDisk, of course, doesn't sell a hard drive-based unit, which means their line of portable players is more limited than that of Toshiba and Sony.

Yet somehow SanDisk is the second largest manufacturer of MP3 portables. Furthermore, comparing the NPD Group's June and July graphs one finds that SandDisk doubled its market share in a month from 3.1% in June to 6.2% in July. SanDisk hitting the number 5 spot in June is a story in itself. Doubling sales in 30 days against the efforts of iRiver, Creative Labs, and Samsung is a headliner.

It's a headliner because that means SanDisk is making ground on Apple in a way no one else has been able to. But is it true or is it just statistical deviation (suggesting that the NPD Group's sample pool is either too small or too regional)? Maybe, but SanDisk still had to sell enough players to even be considered for the list. The previously mentioned Sony and Toshiba are not on the list despite the fact they are much more visible in retail stores (though the SanDisk products are visible nationally in Radio Shack stores). How about RCA and Philips, two brands you can find at the local Target store? What about Archos and Dell? Rio is also not on the list, but the company pulled the plug for a reason.

I have my suspicions. If it is true good for SanDisk, but I still have my doubts. I think I will follow up with a couple of my other sources and see if I can confirm this.


The 4GB iPod Nano is available on Amazon

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