Apple's iPod continues to attract global media attention as the company maintains its marketing push to get the product into people's pockets.

The Times yesterday declared Apple's market-leading music player "iconic", writing: "Not since Sony launched its Walkman in 1979 has a portable music player become such a cult consumer object."

The report explains: "Fashion houses are designing accessories for it, directors are including it in plot lines, and word of mouth is making it the coolest Christmas gadget."

Apple today posted a collection of pro-iPod statements from UK media coverage.

The Daily Telegraph calls the iPod "an entire new mindset made digital", while The Sun newspaper calls it "a growing cult and must-have accessory".

The Independent calls it "a triumph of design", comments echoed by the Financial Times, "an all-time design classic."

The product has impressed DJ magazine too: "The iPod is all about style. It’s the Gucci of MP3 players," it writes.

iPod sales overdrive

US reports also highlight the product, which with Apple's iTunes Music Store was recognized as "energizing the music industry" by research firm Jupiter Media this week.

A local US (Delaware) report recognizes the iPod as "setting a new trend in portability". A Delaware computer reseller confirmed the product has become: "By far the hottest item for the holiday", with sales rocketing from two a month to at least two a day.

Speaking at MacExpo in November Apple UK's general manager Mark Rogers told Macworld: "iPod sales are good, but we can't make them fast enough", insisting "we will catch up on supply."

iPod hard drive manufacturer Toshiba has confirmed plans to ramp up iPod drive production from 300,000 to 600,000 per month in the coming weeks.

iPod's in Santa's sack

Demand is strong and set to rise. A Macworld Online reader poll this week showed a quarter of online readers want an iPod for Christmas. As its installed iPod user base rises Apple seems in prime position to dominate the digital music download market.

The company this week confirmed it has already sold in excess of 20 million songs through its US-only iTunes Music Store.

Apple has always described its non-money-making iTunes Music Store as a 'Trojan Horse', designed to stimulate iPod sales. Calling the two products a "huge phenomenon", local US newspaper the Iowa State Daily confirms the strategy's success.

It reports the experience of local computer reseller Jeremy McKinley. Based on the local university campus, McKinley saw sales rise in April when the iTunes Music Store was announced, but described a "major increase in sales" when iTunes for Windows was unleashed. He calls the product "the most accessorized product in history".

Battered for battery life

Apple's success has also attracted critics. The New York Metro reports the well-known case of artist Casey Neistat. The artist's iPod battery lost power after just 18-months – and Apple advised him to buy a new iPod, rather than a battery. "They are not meant to last forever", Apple said.

An angry Neistat took to the streets, stenciling "iPod's unreplaceable battery lasts only 18-months" on iPod ads across New York. A movie of what the artist did is available online. Apple relented and offered him a $99 replacement battery.

Protection – US-only?

In November, Apple introduced a $59 iPod AppleCare Protection Plan for both Mac and Windows users. This covers battery replacement, iPod accessories and offers telephone and Web-based support, repair and servicing. It is available for all iPods that remain within their one-year warranty.

Such protection is unavailable to iPod users outside the US at this time. Apple has confirmed no plans to extend this service to the UK or Europe, despite repeated requests for clarification.