Apple's decision to announce the UK price of its iPod Battery Replacement scheme following two months of obfustication became clear last night when battery problems in its iPod music players became the focus of a BBC TV investigation.

UK consumer advocate show, 'Watchdog', took Apple to task over battery life.

"If you bought your iPod before May last year, the in-built battery was supposed to last for up to 12 hours without the need for recharging. But for the owners of many of these older models, the music has been fading a lot more quickly," Watchdog writes.

It puts forward multiple cases in which internal iPod batteries have failed, sometimes within a year leaving UK music lovers disappointed and frustrated by their 'Apple experience'.

UK is Apple's cash-cow

As ever answering its US critics - but not before a class action had begun - Apple has agreed to give as many as 1.3 million owners of iPods acquired before May 2004 financial compensation or free replacement batteries.

It's compensation for US iPod owners whose music players' batteries failed to hold a charge.

Citing this as partial evidence that iPods have a problem, Watchdog asked why Apple has been unable to extend the courtesy to iPod owners outside the US.

Apple yesterday revealed that Europe - and particularly the UK - are two of its most critical growth areas.

Watchdog also observed that Apple has failed to acknowledge that a problem exists with its iPod batteries.

"Apple say they've sold over 21 million iPods and the battery issues have affected very few", the report states.

"They also tell us that all iPods come with a one year guarantee and if it's out of warranty you can buy a replacement battery for £49."

Batteries - iPod's Achilles Heel

Prime-time UK TV show, Watchdog, may have picked a good time to broadcast criticism of the company: Apple CEO Steve Jobs is presently in Europe.

Macworld has been pursuing Apple for two months in order to acquire a definitive response as to iPod battery replacement price.

Many consumers consider Apple's attitude toward them to be somewhat cavalier, following multople global reports indicating battery disappointment.

Jobs yesterday revealed Apple's competitors want to "kill" the company.

Sony is one such competitor - and it's taking the battery battle up against Apple.

Sony will ship its new Walkman range of hard drive and flash-based music players in November in the UK. The flash-based versions of these devices offer up to 50 hours playback.