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Saturday, December 17, 2005, 09:00 am PT (12:00 pm ET)

Apple \"sold out\" of 1GB iPod shuffle till January

Apple Computer has sold out of its higher-capcity iPod digital music player and doesn't plan to restock until next year, according to a message on its Web site.

The $129 iPod is "Sold out for holiday," Apple said in a message on its online store. New stock of the original flash-based iPod is not expected until "mid-January."

Not surprisingly, mid-January is also the time Apple traditionally unveils its latest consumer products at the Macworld Expo trade show in San Francisco. This year's festivities are set to kick-off on January 10th.

At least one analyst has gone on record in saying that a new, smaller, version of the iPod shuffle is being prepped for a release around the same time.

"We are hearing of an even smaller form factor (smaller than a pack of gum) and the potential for the re-introduction of multiple colors," said American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu in a research note from November.

Wu believes the new shuffle could come as early as January and said Apple's preparation for the product refresh was likely behind its recent move to add Hynix as a third supplier of NAND flash memory chips.

Apple introduced the iPod shuffle in 512MB and 1GB models on January 11th. The 512MB model — which is still available from Apple and Amazon.com — was termed the "first iPod under $100."