It is five years to the day that Apple launched the almighty iPod. The device has undoubtedly transformed the way many of us buy and listen to music. In the last five years, 68 million iPods have been sold, and the company holds a staggering 75% share of the market.

Alongside the iPod’s success, its companion service iTunes now holds 88% of the legal music download market and is now more than breaking even, according to Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer.

In a recent interview with Newsweek, Steve Jobs explained that the iPod’s success was due in no small part to the link-up with iTunes:

“One of the biggest insights we have was that we decided not to try to manage your music library on the iPod, but to manage it in iTunes.”

“Other companies tried to do everything on the device itself and made it so complicated that it was useless.”

While Apple’s iPod has fuelled the growth of the digital music market, many now see it as a monopoly and barrier to further growth.

It will be interesting to see how the iPod fares over the next five years, during which time any number of credible competitors may emerge to take a piece of the still growing digital music market.

Many industry watchers expect music players to become integrated with mobile phones, a prediction that is slowly starting to happen. Apple was rumoured to have acknowledged this last week with reports of not one but two iPod phones being readied for release.

For those of you looking for a digital music player for Christmas we recently reported on Richard Menta’s seasonal round-up of possible iPod killers.