iPod mini sells out

USA Today reports that Apple's new iPod mini is "a smash hit." Retailers are having trouble keeping the devices in stock, according to the report. When Apple announced the devices were shipping in February, the company said they already had 100,000 iPods on pre-order.

The US$249 iPod mini was first introduced to attendees of Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, Calif. in January, but it's only been available for purchase for a couple of weeks. The diminutive version of Apple's eminently popular MP3 player sports credit card-sized dimensions but uses the same user interface to control up to 4GB of music, or about 1,000 songs. It's Mac and PC-compatible like its bigger, larger-capacity siblings.

The iPod mini -- available in five different colors -- is becoming a popular accessory for teens and athletic fans, according to Apple vice president of hardware product marketing Greg Joswiak. Joswiak told the paper that the one to three week wait Apple is now quoting isn't the result of any component shortage, just an example of the huge demand for the iPod mini.

There's only a $50 difference in price between the iPod mini and the entry-level iPod, but the iPod mini can only hold about one quarter the amount of music. This was the focus of much early criticism against the iPod mini, but the device was designed to compete in a different market, against flash media-based players that sport much less capacity for the money.

Other MP3 makers are catching on, however -- one retailer who called the iPod mini's popularity "a phenomenon" also mentioned that he's been moving quite a supply of the $200 MuVo2 from Creative, which also holds 4GB of music.

The MuVo2's popularity may partly be explained because it's possible to disassemble the MuVo2 and use its 4GB CompactFlash-compatible storage medium in a digital camera. At $200, cannibalizing the MuVo2 is a considerably cheaper proposition than buying a 4GB CompactFlash card or MicroDrive on its own.

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