Apple directors of marketing Peter Lowe (consumer software) and Stan Ng (iPod) are on a roll, following last week's Macworld Expo.

Lowe explained: "We have crossed 30 million song sales on the iTunes Music Store. With over 500,000 tracks we offer the largest music store on the Internet and hold 70 per cent of the legal download market. iTunes Music Store is the market leader."

Speaking to Phil Leigh on the Inside Digital Media show, the product managers echoed much of what was said during Apple CEO Steve Jobs' keynote speech last week.

Lowe stressed the new features of Apple's iLife suite, but focused on the company's brand new GarageBand application: "We think GarageBand will have very broad appeal: our research shows that over half of US homes have one active musician."

GarageBand is a new consumer-friendly application from Apple that offers a wide range of functions for music makers through an easy to use interface, it's another unique product from the company, Lowe said: "It is unique for Mac and Windows and is another great reason to buy a Mac.

Available "In the past, these software functions were available, but you needed several applications, some quite expensive. For example, you'd have an application to simulate guitar amps, another to record, another to edit, and a collection of instruments plug-ins – all separate products. This is the first time all this software has been made available in one easy-to-use iLife-like application.

"We are bringing Apple user interface expertise to music creation as well," he added.

Lowe explained what GarageBand may mean to a home guitar player. "You can plug your guitar straight into a Mac using an adaptor, or a digital audio interface. You can then play guitar straight into the Mac, and the software also holds several software-based vintage amplifier emulators. You can record riffs, play along with the application's supplied software instruments and loops, and then record tracks, copying them to CD, iTunes or iPods."

He pressed home the advantages of Apple's software to music lovers: "The 1,000 supplied loops were all recorded at different pitches and tempos, but the software can match the pitches, so just drag them in and the software will make the song sound great."

Apple has been actively engaged in reaching partnerships across the industry to make its iPod and iTunes synonymous with music. Last week it announced a giant deal with HP, under which the latter firm will sell its own version of Apple's iPod. February 1 at SuperBowl it kicks off a music promotion with Pepsi, in which 100 million songs will be given away to US fizzy pop drinkers; the Music Store has also been made accessible to AOL's US members through that company's browser.

Strategy "We've done a lot of things as part of a strategy to make it easy for consumers", Lowe said, "generally the user interface and the integration of the Music Store and iPod are designed to make it easy and compelling for users to stay with and use them as the best way to buy and listen to music."

Innovation may be Apple's greatest strength, but Lowe believes Apple's service delivers: "Our focus is not to get their first, but to offer a phenomenal way to get music and play it back on an iPod."

Ng observed Apple's success in selling iPods over Christmas and Thanksgiving: "The iPod was the hottest product over Christmas. Apple sold 735,000 iPods in the period, which is pretty incredible. We'll be seeing a lot of happy iPod customers in next few days." It's believed Apple sold in excess of 120,000 iPods in the period in the UK alone.

"With two million sold there are iPods all over the place. iPod has over 30 per cent market share in the MP3 player market in units, and 55 per cent revenue share," Ng confirmed.

On the new iPod mini, Ng pointed out: "The iPod mini weighs about the same as a man's watch. We believe no one will think about carrying their iPod mini wherever they go.

Leigh asked how much battery life consumers should expect from their products. The marketing directors avoided dealing with recent widespread reports that iPod batteries offer just 18-months life.

Ng said: "iPod and iPod mini's are designed for several years of use, with high-capacity lithium ion batteries Many customers have been using first-generation iPods since 2001 with no problems. We also have a battery replacement program."

Under the latter program, users with a faulty battery can return their iPod to Apple, which will install a new battery (for a fee) and return the product.

Apple recently made the £59 iPod AppleCare Protection Plan available in the UK.

The full 25-minute interview is available in Real Player format from Inside Digital Media.