Apple is consolidating iPod as the world's market-leading MP3 player, but industry watchers warn that the iTunes Music Store is far less likely to enjoy such domination.

Apple has invested in a global TV and billboard iPod advertising campaign – including four 'iPod buses' in Taiwan. The company has also launched a new Web site called Aimed at teenagers, it offers reasons to buy an iPod – and ways of convincing parents to buy one.

The company has also arranged iPod deals with new retailers. UK shoppers can now pick one up at all 165 Virgin Megastore and Xpress outlets.

A variety of promotional campaigns have also kicked off. London's indie-music radio station XFM is this week giving away 200 iPods to promote its breakfast show, and Egg, the Internet bank, is offering an Apple product giveaway promotion to its customers in conjunction with John Lewis.

iPod is now winning the heart of the Windows world, with Microsoft's chief technology officer David Vaskevitch confessing he "always carries an iPod".

"I love the idea I can have music with me wherever I go," Vaskevitch told a wireless-device discussion at a US tech-industry event.

Music-download outlook However, music-industry executives believe Apple will face fierce competition from established heavyweights in the digital-music download market.

MusicNet CEO Alan McGlade told CBS MarketWatch he thinks Apple's service may be an early leader, but that others will dominate the new market in future.

He said: "The big companies are going to dominate. AOL is going to be a significant player. Companies like Yahoo, MTV, Microsoft, Sony. I don't think it's going to be iTunes."

Meanwhile, although Apple Asia Pacific software product manager Darren Sng said Apple is "fully committed" to extending iTunes Music Store worldwide, he wouldn't commit to a date. Speaking to Kuala Lumpur's TechCentral he said the company "is negotiating with labels worldwide to arrange this".

Analysts recently trimmed expectations of the online music market to $1.4 billion – down from $5.6 billion in 2001. Apple CEO Steve Job has already admitted that the company makes little money from the online-download market, and that iTunes Music Store is a strategy to increase iPod sales.

In related news, UK national newspaper The Times has published a glowing review of iPod.

It looks at ten competing MP3 players, and calls Apple's product a "must-have style item for the fashion-conscious MP3 music fan". It adds: "The iPod has long been the Big Daddy of the MP3 world." It gives the iPod a score of five out of five.