According to analysis by Mintel, the research company, sales of MP3 players fell by almost £110 million – or 22 per cent – to £381 million this year compared to 2011. Mintel predicts that sales will halve again by 2017. In its “worst case” scenario, the group forecasts that sales of MP3 players could drop to just £25 million within five years. MP3 players – or Portable Media Players (PMP) as they are also known – are rechargeable pocket-sized devices that play digital music and videos. However they have been usurped by smartphones, which carry out the same functions but also allow users to make telephone calls and connect to the internet. When Apple launched its iPod in 2001 it changed the way that people listened to music. Using its own ‘digital jukebox’ software, the device – which was the same size and weight as a packet of playing cards – could hold 1,000 songs in compressed digital files. Prior to the iPod, music fans had to rely on cumbersome portable CD players, short-lived mini-disc players or even cassette players like the Sony Walkman to listen to music on the move. Within a year of the iPod launching Apple released a version capable of carrying 4,000 songs. By the autumn of 2010, around 275 million iPods had been sold around the world.