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Apple\'s retail segment heightens iPod sales goals

With analysts expecting Apple to sell upwards of 20 million iPods this year, the company has recently propositioned its retail segment to meet heightened iPod sales goals, AppleInsider has learned.

According to sources, Apple is now challenging its retail segment to move a total of 100,000 iPods each week. With just over 100 retail stores in operation this figure breaks down to approximately 1000 iPods per store, per week, and amounts to a total of over 5 million iPods for the year.

But not all stores are created equal, and likewise neither are the sales goals for each Apple store. While Apple expects some of its smaller retail stores to move only a few hundred iPods each week, it has reportedly asked some of the larger flagship retail stores to sell upwards of 5,000, and in one case 8,000, of the players each week.

Apple does not breakdown its iPod sales goal figures by model, sources said, making it difficult to estimate how many of the new flash-based iPod shuffle players the company hopes to sell through its retail stores. However, sources said that after initial strong demand for the 1GB iPod shuffle, the $99 512MB model has recently begun to outsell the $149 1GB iPod shuffle by a three-to-one ratio.

Sales of Apple's iPod photo players have also picked up steam following recent price cuts. According to sources, Apple retail stores are now selling large quantities of iPod photos and have recently moved stock of the players back onto the show room floors. Sources said that keeping large quantities of iPods in the showroom poses as a loss prevention issue, but with Apple's second fiscal quarter of 2005 coming to a close the company is looking to push as many iPods out the door as possible. Prior to the recent iPod price cuts, sources said that even Apple's largest retail stores were selling only a 'handful' of iPod photos each week.

But Apple Retail's recent iPod sales push doesn't stop at the players alone. According to sources, Apple is now tracking sales of AppleCare support packages for iPods on a per-employee basis. "This has enabled the company to see exactly which employees are not selling enough AppleCare extended warranties for iPods," said one source. The new employee monitoring system has reportedly helped the company raise its iPod AppleCare attach rates from just over 20% to nearly 40% in some stores.

Apple's online store, which operates independently of its retail segment, is also expected to ship several million iPods this year.