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Notes: iPod, PowerBooks, Apple Retail

iPod has 50% market share in Japan

According to an Apple representative on hand for Saturday's world-wide launch of the iPod mini in Tokyo, the iPod digital music player currently retains a 50% market share in Japan.

About 1,500 Apple enthusiasts lined the streets outside the Apple Store Ginza in Tokyo, Japan on Saturday, with hopes of obtaining an iPod mini. Ironically, once the Ginza store doors flew open, two guys at the head of the line reportedly refused to enter the building because they didn’t want their picture taken by any of the reporters massed around the store’s entrance, delaying the event by several minutes.

One reader notes that iPod minis arriving in Japan this past weekend were enclosed in a tighter package, which is apparently much different from the iPod mini packaging used in the United States.

Over at the FNAC Marseille store — Apple's largest retail channel in France — 43 iPod minis arrived at 11:00 AM on Saturday morning and were completely sold out by 3:00 PM. The shipment were said to consisted of mainly silver, pink and blue iPod minis.

The second wave of iPod mini shipments is expected to hit European countries by the end of the day, sources said.

ATI introduces new PowerBook bound graphics card

Earlier today, ATI Technologies announced the Mobility Radeon 9800, based on its award-winning RADEON X800. According to ATI, the AGP-based Mobility Radeon 9800 comes equipped with eight pixel pipelines and a 256-bit wide memory interface.

A Macintosh version of the Mobility Radeon 9800 is widely rumored for inclusion in a forthcoming PowerBook revision, which sources say will most likely include "PowerPC G4 extended" microprocessors running at speeds of up to 2 GHz. The chips, from Motorola, have yet to be tagged with an official name, sources added.

There also appears to be some internal optimism that the computer company will be able to deploy a G5 PowerBook before a G4 revision is warranted. However, this seems increasingly unlikely given IBM's continuous G5 manufacturing problems.

Apple Retail store update

Earlier this month, Apple job listings began appearing for a new retail store that will open later this year at South Shore Plaza, located at the intersection of Route 3 and I-93 in Braintree, Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, ifoAppleStore notes that workers have removed the scaffolding outside the forthcoming Apple flagship store on Regent St. in London, revealing the historical stonework that contributes to the building's façade.

According to new information obtained by ifoAppleStore, the store will include four theaters inside the retail space, and another four classrooms for formal, fee-based training, similar to the Apple Ginza store. A trademark Apple glass staircase and enhancements to the main entryway (or front door) of the location have also been rumored.

Apple reportedly received over 4,000 applications to work at Regent St location, but will only hire 120 employees.