Brand Republic has published a short health-check of Apple's iPods brands, asking if the iPod shuffle has glimmered its glamour.

It contrasts the huge sales of the iPod mini when that product was launched with reports that iPod shuffle sales are slowing.

However, recent NPD Techworld data acquired by Macworld shows that the iPod shuffle still holds 52 per cent of the market.

Brand Republic states: "There are concerns that the iPod Shuffle does not represent value for money compared with its MP3 rivals", pointing to recent reports of higher-capacity products as proof Apple recognises the need to beef-up the offering.

"We asked Tim Booth, creative director of online gadget shop I Want One Of Those, and Mintel analyst James McCoy how Apple can revive the Shuffle's image and prevent the iPod brand suffering," the report states.

Booth castigates Apple for exploiting its brand too much, warning the company: "Customers will pay for a brand up to a point, but if they think they are being ripped off, its credibility will wane, and the brand can become irrevocably damaged."

He recommends Apple to make the product as good as the design, accuses it of "bandwagoning" in launching a flash-based player, and urges it to "dump" the shuffle.

McCoy rejects Booth's harsh diagnosis, describing "no inherent problem" with the flash-based player.

He argues that once technically-proficient users have acquired their music player, the only way to expand the market is to educate less tech-savvy consumers in how digital music works, and how to take music from CDs or vinyl collections into iTunes.

He also suggests Apple market the iPod shuffle as an extra device, offering "current iPod owners a discount" on the product. He also advises Apple to add extra features to the product.