iPod Shuffle, Mac mini draw crowds at Apple Stores

The word of the day at Apple retail outlets in California was "Shuffle." Approximately 80 or so eager customers stood in line outside the downtown San Francisco Apple Store and 200 lined the halls of South Coast Plaza, waiting to be among the first to get their hands on the new Mac Mini, iPod Shuffle, and the iLife and iWork software suites from Apple.

iPod Shuffle in hot demand

Lecy Brito said she had been waiting since 7:00 a.m. for the San Francisco Apple Store to open, hoping to buy an iPod Shuffle. "I enjoy music and the smaller thing is right for my kind of work," she said, "and it's easy to hang it from my neck."

Brito was representative of most of those in line, who were waiting to buy an iPod Shuffle. Of the people MacCentral queried, almost all were hoping to purchase Apple's newest MP3 player. However, those waiting solely for an iPod Shuffle were turned away empty-handed, as the store was completely sold out.

The story was the same at South Coast Plaza in Southern California, where the majority of the 200 plus crowd that MacCentral spoke with were there to pick up an iPod Shuffle. The first few people in line bought what stock the store had of the new iPods, everyone else left empty handed as the store sold out within minutes of opening.

Patrick Fallon, who came to the store to buy an iPod Shuffle for his little brother, said he was attracted to the iPod Shuffle because "it's affordable and really nice." Fallon said he would be waiting for more photo functionality before he gets an iPod for himself.

Mac mini draws a crowd

Not everyone was queued for an iPod. Jeremy Ashkenas who took the train to the San Francisco store from the East Bay, had been waiting since 8:00 a.m. to buy a Mac Mini for his girlfriend's mother. "She's had an old PC laptop for a long time," said Ashkenas, "we're going to get her set up with this. She wants to switch. She's sick of [the PC], half the time it won't even turn on." Ashkenas noted that he was headed to a used computer store afterwards to pick up a monitor, keyboard and mouse.

Farther back in line, Kim Black was also waiting to buy a Mac Mini. "I'm recording music, and need the extra juice," said Black who owns both a PC and Mac, and was planning on using the Mac Mini as a secondary system. "All my musician friends want to get one to daisy chain them together. The big problem with recording music is CPU usage," he explained.

But Chris Fenison, of Portland Oregon, was the first to actually saunter up to the counter and buy a Mac Mini. Fenison, who also owns both a PC and Mac, said he had been planning to buy a Mini since he first heard about the new system. "I saw the keynote and knew I had to have it," he said. Fenison said he planned to use his Mac Mini as a home entertainment type of system, noting he would hook it up to his television and stereo, and use it to run iPhoto and iTunes and play DVDs.

Asked how it felt to be one of the first people to get his hands on a Mac Mini, Fenison broke into a huge grin, clutching his new system in one hand, and replied "it's pretty cool."

At South Coast Plaza, Pedro Martinez was purchasing a Mac mini, which will be his second Macintosh. With a G4 400 already at home Martinez said that he knew right away that he would be buying a mini when they became available. The bottom line for Martinez was the price; "it's so affordable," he commented.

Bill Caldwell added a Mac mini to his stable of fourteen Macs owned by members of his family. Purchasing it as a birthday present for his son Caldwell said there were many factors that lead him to buy the mini, with price being high on the list.

"In this case we wanted something small and quiet," said Caldwell. "Price means a great deal too."

See more news, reviews and commentary on the Mac mini at Macworld's Mac mini page.

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