iPod mini won't be available worldwide until July

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Apple announced Thursday that its iPod mini won't be available worldwide until July, about three months later than it had originally anticipated. Apple said that stronger than expected demand in the U.S. has constrained supplies through the end of June. Apple now anticipates that its production will be ramped up to meet worldwide demand in the July quarter.

"We expected the iPod mini was going to be a hit," Greg Joswiak, Apple's Vice President of Hardware Product Marketing told MacCentral. "The iPod is the most popular music player in the world. The iPod mini has been even a bigger hit than we had guessed it would."

The iPod mini was introduced in January at Macworld Conference & Expo. Apple created the iPod mini to compete in the flash storage-based MP3 player market. About the size of a credit card, the iPod mini can store up to 4GB of music and costs US$249, only $50 less than the 15GB iPod.

The price and storage capacity led some industry analysts and pundits to suggest that the iPod mini wouldn't succeed, but when the iPod mini began shipping in mid-February Apple announced that 100,000 pre-orders for the iPod mini had already been placed. Since then, retailers including some Apple retail stores have had a tough time keeping them in stock.

"The supply for the iPod mini is limited because we're using new technology," Joswiak told MacCentral. "We're using just about all of the [4GB] 1-inch hard drives that are being made."

While Apple stays mum about its component suppliers, dissections of production iPod minis reveal that Apple is using a 1-inch diameter 4GB Microdrive mechanism manufactured by Hitachi. Despite its tiny dimensions, the iPod sports the same user interface as its big brother and uses a Click Wheel that combines the ability to scroll through menus, play, rewind, fast forward and pause.

The iPod mini is small enough to wear on an armband when you're out for a run or doing a workout at the gym, Joswiak added, but the 4GB device can hold a lot more songs than other devices the same price bracket, which often have storage capacities limited to only 256MB or less.

"Buyers of flash-based players don't tend to use them very long," said Joswiak. "There's fatigue in having to constantly swap out your songs on a player with a small capacity. The iPod mini is really a wonderful solution for those people because it gives them the ability to hold up to 1,000 songs."

Joswiak sees the explosive demand for the iPod mini as a big success for Apple as it continues to dominate the MP3 player market.

"The iPod mini is doing as we hoped it would by growing the market for the iPod rather than cannibalizing its existing business," Joswiak said. "The iPod mini is for anybody who loves music, but it's proven to be very popular among athletes and teens and other users who otherwise would have bought a flash-based player."

This story, "iPod mini won't be available worldwide until July" was originally published by PCWorld.

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