The iPod has transformed Apple into a major player in the IT market in the eyes of consumers, a top industry expert says.

Trusco Capital Management analyst Patrick Kirksey told The Scotsman: "Apple’s picking up brand recognition in the broader marketplace because of the iPod. People had counted them out because they couldn’t compete."

The report goes on to examine how the Mac faithful are having to get used to enjoying a more-mainstream brand. "Mac owners have long prided themselves on being in a tasteful minority, putting up with a computer world designed to work for PC users but knowing, deep down, that they possessed better designed machines that were actually a pleasure to use.

"They must now accept that Apple has broken out and is in danger of becoming mainstream."

The report also claims that customs officials in America are on the lookout for iPod-style white earphones as Tax-dodging tourists take advantage of the weak dollar to snap up an iPod in the United States.

The success of the iPod has helped Apple shares outperform the rest of the stock market. In recent weeks these have risen by 22 per cent to become the best-performing share on the Nasdaq exchange.