Apple's digital music initiatives continue to gather momentum and iPod sales are very strong, the company has confirmed.

Its UK general manager Mark Rogers told Macworld last night: "We have been extremely pleased with iPod sales," adding, "It is definitely on everyone's Christmas wish list, given the huge demand we have seen."

Rogers confirmed Apple to be working to meet sales: "We are working hard to fulfill that demand as quickly as we can," he said.

The company and its partners are also working hard to stimulate more sales. Yesterday Apple reseller John Lewis unveiled its stunning iPod-focused window display at its Oxford Street store, open till 8pm each night.

iPod love sets a trend

The product is attracting an ever-increasing number of celebrity endorsements. Today's Times carries a short interview with Martin Fry of 80's chart-toppers, ABC.

Asked what he would save if his house were on fire, he replies: "My Mac with my photographs, and my iPod".

The number of musicians using the product underlines the market opportunity Apple possesses. Speaking to Rolling Stone magazine this week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said: ""Apple is in a pretty interesting position, as almost every song and CD is made on a Mac – it's recorded on a Mac, it's mixed on a Mac, and the artwork's done on a Mac. Almost every artist I've met has an iPod, and most of the music execs now have iPods."

Product recognition crosses barriers

The latest edition of gadget-focused Stuff Magazine offers its own ringing endorsement of Apple's product, making it number one in 2003's top 100 gadgets. "It's the best gadget of the last decade," it declares.

Competing gadget-focused title T3 also lavishes praise on Apple's open standards-based music player. Its Christmas edition declares iPod the second-best of its top 100 products for 2003, behind the Pentax Optio S camera.

Research firm Insight Express confirms Apple's move to develop and manufacture consumer electronics devices is well-timed.

In a report released yesterday it says American consumers are ready for computer companies to "move beyond the desktop and into their everyday lives.

It suggests computer companies can reap profits by delivering a host of potential devices, including: PDAs, MP3 players, digital cameras, camcorders, home theatre systems, and "even televisions to consumers".

The iPod is achieving market – and media – acceptance globally. ESPN has declared Apple's iPod one of its three favourite "tech Gizmos" of 2003.

Acclaim continues

Apple UK yesterday published a sample of the positive comment the product has attracted from the UK press. Such positive response has been seen worldwide.

The Washington Times this morning maintains the pro-Apple, pro-iPod trend. Speaking to Apple's senior product marketing manager for iTunes Chris Bell it confirms "enormous interest" in the gift certificates-buying feature of iTunes Music Store. It also confirms strong demand for iPods. "Demand is brisk," Bell said.

Today's Forbes invites readers to vote on the most significant business story of 2003. Among the ten trends picked out by the title sits digital piracy and its influence on firms like Apple and Roxio. "Whether legal services like Apple's iTunes Music Store finally beat back the pirates, there is no doubt that the Internet has forever altered the business of profiting from intellectual property," it writes.

Digital music 'historically inevitable'

These comments are reflected in a research report published yesterday by Inside Digital Media analyst Phil Leigh. Called Online Music Keeps Rocking, the report looks at industry events across 2003 and predicts what's coming next.

Leigh writes: "Apple captured the hearts of the upscale consumer with the iPod. It changed the way we thought about our music collections."

Leigh calls the move toward delivering Internet music download services a "gold-rush", and says it benefits companies, consumers and the music business, "nearly all industry constituents will benefit", he writes.

"The trend toward a new paradigm of recorded music distribution is inevitable," he concludes.