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Wednesday, January 19, 2005, 03:00 pm PT (06:00 pm ET)

Apple to reward employees with free iPod shuffles (updated)

Apple Computer in the coming weeks will begin offering complimentary iPod shuffles to many of its employees, AppleInsider has learned.

Apple is handing out free iPod shuffles to many of its retail employees. Sources says that the freebies may be an incentive to increase the work ethic amongst Apple sales reps, or maybe even a 'thank you' for recent prosperity. In the past, Apple has offered promotional items to retail staff of stores that meet weekly or monthly sales targets. Apple's retail employees, however, do not work on commission.

Several Apple employees at the company's retail stores have been told to expect a free 1GB iPod shuffle sometime in the next three weeks. So far, AppleInsider has confirmed that certain stores in New York, California, and Missouri are awaiting arrival of the complimentary players. Sources tell AppleInsider that such a gesture will likely extend to all retail stores and may even include some groups within Apple's corporate structure—although this has not yet been confirmed.

Workers at Apple's flagship SoHo store in New York City will be given a free iPod shuffle, according to one source. Additionally, the store is expected to begin selling versions of the new flash-based player this evening.

But over in Cupertino, some employees AppleInsider spoke with had only heard about the freebies through word of mouth and were not necessarily expecting one themselves. Time will tell.

According to sources, Apple retail stores that meet weekly quotes often hold weekly raffles, where lucky employees can walk away with cool gadgets such as the iPod photo.

Apple announced the iPod shuffle just over a week ago. To date the player has been met with favorable reviews from both the main stream media and Wall Street analysts, and is already in tight supply with Apple's online store quoting backlog of up to 4 weeks.

Update: According to multiple sources, all Apple employees will be receiving a 1GB iPod shuffle by the end of the month, not just those affiliated with Apple Retail. Sources say Apple chief executive Steve Jobs announced the gesture during a company meeting last Thursday, the day following Apple's blockbuster earnings report.

"Seeing as last year we all received additional vacation time, an iPod shuffle is a small investment for a company to reward its employees for the best quarter in our history," one employee told AppleInsider.