Analyst: Mac mini + Apple Stores = "Match Made in Heaven"

Needham & Co. analyst Charlie Wolf issued a research note to his clients Wednesday that called the Mac mini and Appleis retail stores a "match made in heaven." Noting that the lack of a low-cost entry-level Mac was a "major barrier to iPod-toting Windows users whoive contemplated switching to a Mac," he said that the Mac mini "promises to change this."

Working from the fact that Appleis retail stores now account for 16% of the companyis worldwide sales and 40% of the companyis sales in the US retail channel, Mr. Wolf said that an estimated 13% of Windows users that come into an Apple Store walk out with an iPod.

At the same time, Mr. Wolf said that unlike the iPod mini, the Mac mini will not simply sell itself. With all of those Windows users walking in to buy iPods, Mr. Wolf said that Apple has built a prime vehicle for doing the Mac mini sales job.

"With the facilities and staff to demo the iLife suite running on the mini," wrote Mr. World, "they represent the ideal venue for selling the machine."

He also noted that Apple has frequently been described as a religion by many in the Mac community. 

"If so," he wrote, "the Apple Stores have become the places of worship, succeeding brilliantly in spreading the gospel.  With the introduction of the Mac mini, they finally have a chance to fulfill their second mission -- attracting Windows users to the Mac platform and growing the Macis market share. "

Mr. Wolf maintained his Buy rating for Appleis stock, which is currently trading lower at 70.57, down 0.08 (-.11%) on moderate volume.

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