Analysts Agree: 4 Million iPods Under Xmas Trees; mini Shortage?

Over the past few weeks the consensus among technology industry analysts is holding firm that Apple Computer will sell around four million iPodis this holiday season -- twice as many as last year. But spot checks show the iPod mini is the toughest player to find in just the right color.

Despite spotty shortages of certain capacities and colors, supply appears to be following demand. Consumer in the U.S. have been met with some unavailability of iPodis, only to find plenty at another retail location just blocks away.

"I was at an Apple store just yesterday and the place was packed with people looking at iPods and iPod accessories," west coast IDC analyst Susan Kevorkian told theReuters news agency, Wednesday. "Thereis no question that iPods are an extremely hot item this holiday season."

NPD Group analyst Stephen Baker said, "If it sold two million last quarter and itis going to sell four million this quarter, that puts an awful lot of stress on the supply chain. Apple would have to build all those extra ones for quite a while, going back into the summer."

But one analyst believes Apple could have sold more iPod miniis this quarter had it had enough hard drives from its supplier, Hitachi.

"We believe that iPod mini sales this quarter will be capped at less than 2 million units as Apple will likely max out the 1" hard drive manufacturing capacity at Hitachi Global Storage, the only supplier currently," Lehman brothers analyst Harry Blount wrote to clients on Dec. 7. "We note that Seagate also has a 1" hard drive product which we believe has been qualified by Apple. However, we do not believe Apple is yet selling the STX product as it comes in a 5 (gigabyte) configuration versus the 4GB capacity currently being offered in the mini."