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iPod shuffle availability improves significantly

Supply constraints associated with Apple's new iPod shuffle player have begun to dissipate, AppleInsider has learned.

Over the weekend, Apple retail stores and other associated retailers reported receiving 'significant shipments' of the new players. Until recently, these outlets had been receiving only a handful of iPod shuffle cartons each week, and sporadically at that. Each carton contains 20 iPod shuffles.

"We've now begun receiving them in batches," said one source. "There are too many to count; we have a ton."

In its investigation this morning, AppleInsider contact several Apple retail stores at random, including locations in Conn., New York, Illinois, and Calif. All stores reported available inventory of both shuffle models, with flagship locations confirming that they retained 'a good number' of each of the players.

Followup checks with the Apple online store also support these findings. The estimated ship time for an iPod shuffle has been reduced from a number of weeks to 1-3 business days on the 512MB model and to 5-7 business days on the 1GB.

The flow of iPod shuffles leaving Austek's manufacturing in Taiwan may have been helped in part by one of Apple's component suppliers. Rumor has it that Samsung, which provides Apple with 1GB flash RAM modules, may have joined Toshiba in helping supply the iPod maker with 512MB modules.

Virtually all backlog of iPod shuffle players is expected to disappear by April, sources said.