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Thursday, July 27, 2006, 09:00 am PT (12:00 pm ET)

Apple: iPods built to last 4 years

Apple Computer says its iPod digital music players are built to last four years and have a failure rate that is lower than other consumer electronics devices.

Although there have been several accounts in which the iconic music players have been called faulty devices, Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris recently told the Chicago Tribune that iPods have a failure rate of less than 5 percent, which she said is "fairly low" compared with other consumer electronics.

"The vast majority of our customers are extremely happy with their iPods,"Kerris said, adding that Apple builds the players to last four years.

However, a survey conducted by Macintouch last year found that out of nearly 9,000 iPods owned by more than 4,000 respondents, more than 1,400 of the players had failed. The survey concluded that the failure rate was 13.7 percent, stemming from an equal mix of hard drive and battery related issues.

Apple's fairly recent decision to embrace solid-state NAND flash memory at the core of its most popular iPod models, rather than hard disk drives, is likely to improve failure rates. Flash memory lacks the moveable parts contained inside hard disks, making the storage medium significantly more durable.

According to the Macintouch survey, flash-based iPod shuffles and iPod nanos indeed sport a much lower failure rate than their hard disk drive-based counterparts.

Apple's iPod turns five years old this October.