Though some iPods do develop faults, Apple builds them to last at least four years, the company claims.

A Chicago Tribune report weighs up the cacophony of complaints regarding Apple's music players. With Apple selling millions of these devices each month, it's likely that any percentage of failure would be well reported. Apple believes there are more faultless iPods in circulation than broken models.

Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris assured the newspaper that iPods have a failure rate of less than 5 per cent, which she called "fairly low" compared with other consumer electronics.

"The vast majority of our customers are extremely happy with their iPods," she said, adding that an iPod is designed to last four years.

Bob O'Donnell, a vice president at technology research firm IDC, said: "Any time you have that many of anything, some will not function properly."

The report considers other evidence that points to a higher failure rate, but these are based on unscientific online polls and the word of famed Microsoft analyst, the Enderle Group's Rob Enderle. Enderle reckons iPods have a 15 per cent failure rate, according to the report.

The reporter interviewed some iPod users to elicit their opinions on the product, and found fanatical brand loyalty.

"Walkmans were everywhere in the 80s," one user remarked, "and now iPods have that exact same effect on this generation."