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Monday, November 29, 2004, 12:30 pm PT (03:30 pm ET)

iPod adoption rate faster than Sony Walkman

Based on one Wall Street analyst's findings, the popularity of Apple's iPod is exceeding that of Sony's Walkman during the 80's and 90's.

In a 10 page research note released to clients this morning, Merrill Lynch analyst, Steve Milunovich, once again raised his estimates for Apple's December quarter and 2005 fiscal year by $0.02 and $0.07, respectively. Milunovich also raised Apple's 12-month price objective to $78.

Echoing the sentiments of Apple insiders, Milunovich conceded that Apple will likely ship 4 million iPods during the current quarter, up from his previous estimates of 2.7 and 3.5 million units. He also backs reports of a forthcoming flash-based iPod, citing a 'possible' introduction in January at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco.

"The flash MP3 market is 5X the size of the HDD market in units and about 2X in revenue. It is also fragmented with the leader, Samsung, at only an 8% share," the report says. "Based on availability of a flash iPod sometime in the first quarter, we are raising our F2005 estimate from 10.7 million units to 12.9 million."

But the most interesting segment of Milunovich's report deals with the iPod adoption rate as compared to the early adoption rate of Sony's Walkman. "iPods are being adopted faster than Sony Walkmans were back in the early 1980s," the report claims. A graph accompanying the report reveals that after nearly 2.5 years, iPod shipments are approximately 1 million units ahead of the Walkmen's pace after being on the market for the same period of time.

In a successive Merrill Lynch report released Monday afternoon, Milunovich fires off what appears to be unsubstantiated rumors of an 200GB Apple entertainment server,"which would compete with multimedia PCs and possibly game consoles to manage family entertainment."

During the 80s-90s, Sony sold over 300 million Walkmans.