Apple's Big Weekend?

This was supposed to be a big weekend for Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPod Mini, its newest multicolored digital music player, which premiered in retail stores Friday night. With 100,000 Minis on back order, Apple's $249 player was set to bring in some $25 million between Friday and Sunday.

Did the Mini deliver? Apple hasn't published official sales totals for the weekend and, considering its tight-lipped history, probably won't. So, I decided to poke around at my local Apple store and even commissioned a few polls here at Fool.com to find out how big the Mini was. You may be surprised.

As of this morning, my local Apple store had sold out of all except silver Minis over the weekend. Store staff indicated roughly half of buyers were users of PCs powered by Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Windows operating system (official records aren't kept) and that a plurality bought more than one Mini.

My in-store observations showed those estimates to be in the ballpark, but maybe a little aggressive. For example, in 15 minutes on Saturday, I saw six Minis sold, with two going to one Windows user who already owned a larger iPod.

Indeed, attracting customers of Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) , Gateway (NYSE: GTW  ) , and personal computer market leader Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) (Hewlett will resell the entire iPod line) is a big part of Apple's digital music strategy. Windows users have to buy if Apple is to sell between 3 and 4 million music players this year, as I predicted here last month.

A Mini poll
Interestingly, Fool.com discussion board polling provided a stark contrast to my in-store experience. As of this writing, only one of 96 respondents, a Mac user, reported buying a Mini this weekend. How could that be?

For one, I generated a very small and totally unscientific survey. Polls of this sort, however, often prove useful. In fact, looking at the early returns, there's mixed news for Apple: 30 voters indicated they already have an iPod (good because Apple expects iPod owners to buy a Mini), but 52 Fools said they weren't interested in MP3 players.

Clearly, it's too early to tell if the Mini's premiere was a flop. And we won't know for sure unless Apple publishes numbers. But between my in-store experience and the unscientific poll, it appears the hype may have been just that.

Do you live for polls? How about digital music? Keep tabs on how Fools received the Mini or go vote in the Apple discussion board.

Motley Fool contributorTim Beyersrefuses to buy an iPod until the theme from Mission: Impossible is available at the iTunes Music Store. He does not own shares in any companies mentioned here.


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