Apple UK has confirmed that it will be offering UK iPod owners who are experiencing reduced charge on their iPod battery the chance to replace their battery for £79 including VAT.

The scheme is expected to launch in the UK and Europe this week.

Before Apple offered this scheme, the price of a replacement battery was said to be nearly as much as a new iPod. The alternative was to risk damaging the iPod with an unapproved third-party replacement battery.

Apple told The Times that the battery is supposed to last the life of the product, although the spokesperson admitted: "It's difficult to say how long the battery will last".

Apple acknowledged that some customers have complained that their battery has gone flat in the two years since it was launched. But emphasized: "We have not been inundated with customers whose batteries died after 18 months.”

Apple also denied that it had been using the limited battery life to increase iPod sales.

The company is also offering iPod AppleCare protection for £59 including VAT. This allows owners of iPods to extend their 90 days of complimentary support and one-year warranty on their iPod to up to two years of support and service.