Apple's relying on its iPod music player to "give its stagnant computer business a kick-start", according to The Times.

The report describes Apple's epoch-making music player as: "The iPod is a category-defining product that is so fashionable, so lavishly praised, so cool (to use a favourite Apple word) that it is almost beyond criticism."

Describing the market as still relatively small, the report says: "Apple has achieved an extraordinary big bang for its iPod buck. Everyone is talking about its products again."

The report then goes in for the kill. Apple's Mac sales are in "relative decline", it says, though it fails to note Apple's recent third quarter financial results, which exceeded analysts expectations for performance.

The Times describes Apple's new iMac as "self-consciously styled and promoted" to reflect the iPod, but is critical of its £919 entry-price. Apple "continues to lead the pack in innovation" it concedes.

Apple head of sales and operations denies the company is losing marketshare, pointing out that half Apple's growth in dollar terms is driven by its Mac business. In the markets Apple focuses on, its business is strong, he said.

"If Apple can harness the street cred of the iPod to the cult appeal of the iMac, it might just have another winner on its hands," the report ends.