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Wednesday, December 20, 2006, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Holiday sales of new iPod shuffle double predecessor

Apple Computers new Pod shuffle and its attractive $79 price point appear to have struck a chord with consumers, who are gobbling up the flash memory-based digital music player twice as fast as last year.

According to data from market research firm NPD Group, U.S. sales of the lone 1-gig model during the month of November were approximately double that from the same month last year, when Apple offered two distinct configurations.

The shuffle's stellar debut has been good enough to make it the top-selling flash player overall, capturing a 16.3 percent market share of the flash market during its first month on the market.

"It's been very successful," commented Steve Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD.

According to NPD's data, the iPod shuffle accounted for 21 percent of all iPod sales in November, a time in which supplies of the player were slightly constrained.

Slightly ahead of the shuffle in the iPod sales mix was Apple's updated fifth-generation video iPod players, which accounted for approximately 28 percent of players sold.

Meanwhile, the iPod nano maintained its commanding lead as the most popular digital music in the U.S., making up some 51 percent of all iPods sold by the Cupertino, Calif.-based company last month.

Come year's end, it's possible that shuffle sales could more closely rival those of the more fully-equipped video iPods. The player didn't make its formal market debut until the 3rd of November and was subsequently sold out for the better part of the month at online retailers such as Amazon and Target.

Even Apple seemed to face some backlog issues with the shuffle last month, as its online store indicated longer wait times for the player than all other iPod models.

Availability has since improved at Apple, and the player also recently returned to Amazon.com. However, Target's website indicates the miniature iPod is sold out for the remainder of the year.